Fdd's overnight brief

March 3, 2023

In The News


The U.S. and its European allies have split over the response to Iran’s production of near-weapons-grade uranium, with Britain, France and Germany favoring a public censure of Tehran while the Biden administration is reluctant to do that, according to diplomats involved in the discussions. – Wall Street Journal

Iranian officials are investigating the alleged poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls across the country after a wave of hospitalizations sparked anger against the government for initially playing down the incidents. – Wall Street Journal 

The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on firms it said had transported or sold Iranian petroleum or petrochemical products in violation of U.S. restrictions, including two companies based in China. – Reuters 

The reports of poisoned school girls in Iran is “deeply concerning” and the world needs to know what is causing the ailments, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Thursday. – Reuters 

The arrival this week to Rio de Janeiro of two Iranian warships that Brazil’s government authorized to dock has prompted rebukes both from Israel and the U.S. – Associated Press

The audio clip of the January telephone call, released on social media by a daughter of one of those held, has become a symbol of the courage of the women held in Evin prison and their refusal to stop campaigning even behind bars. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian authorities arrested four people on Thursday in connection with an assault on a woman outside a girls’ school targeted in a wave of poisoning attacks, a news agency said. – Agence France-Presse

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Friday denied that Iran has supplied drones to Russia for use in its invasion of Ukraine, according to TASS Russian state news. – Jerusalem Post

Iran has requested a new air-defense system, S-400s, from Russia, which could prove disastrous for Israel. – Jerusalem Post

UNICEF says it is prepared to provide support and assistance to Iran to help solve a growing crisis over a mysterious wave of illness that has put scores of schoolchildren in hospital and sparked speculation of a plot to force the closure of girls’ schools amid a wave of unrest following the death of a young woman while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

An Iranian-German citizen imprisoned in Iran is not included in an amnesty order issued by the leader of the Islamic republic, according to her family. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: For countries that are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program — including Israel, the U.S., European countries, Russia and China — there will be a lot of spotlight on what Iran does next. […] More is now known about Iran’s nuclear program and, if enrichment no longer is a major issue, countries could send a message to Iran that any weaponization of uranium would be the new “red line” not to cross. – The Hill 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: This means that Iran is increasing its role at sea in the Gulf of Oman and off the coast of Iran’s Chabahar, as well as attempts to move weapons to Yemen. Iran wants to keep the Yemen war going. – Jerusalem Post 

Rajaa Natour writes: Thus, after the attacks, women from the Sistan and Baluchestan province took to the streets for the first time in their lives to demand their rights. Women who had been silenced made themselves heard, deepening their sense of sisterhood. – Haaretz

Annika Ganzeveld, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Johanna Moore, Amin Soltani, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Iranian regime has apparently failed to take measures to protect schools following 46 separate reports of chemical poisonings targeting schoolgirls throughout the country on March 1. […] The US Naval Forces Central Command announced that US forces supported a UK-led interdiction of an illegal Iranain weapons shipment in the Gulf of Oman on February 23. – Institute for the Study of War 

Russia & Ukraine

Russia urgently needs to develop new markets for its oil and gas companies, with Western sanctions cutting into the backbone of its economy. It’s relying on a 37-year-old former Morgan Stanley banker to keep profits flowing. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. is hosting members of the Ukrainian military here for a weeklong war-planning exercise, designed to help Kyiv game out its strategy against Russia in the next phase of their war. – Wall Street Journal

Russia said two civilians were killed and a boy was injured in an attack in the country’s south that it blamed on what it called Ukrainian saboteurs, an alleged assault in which Ukrainian intelligence said it played no part. – Wall Street Journal

The Biden administration is expanding its cadre of federal agents probing violations of sanctions and export controls against Russia, top officials said Thursday, as the U.S. seeks to shut down holes in the West’s economic pressure campaign. – Wall Street Journal

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, the U.S. has committed more than $30 billion in security assistance that has included artillery, missiles, small arms, armored vehicles, radar systems, drones, body armor, millions of rounds of ammunition and more. – Wall Street Journal

The mayor, who refused to flee and for a while remained at his post after Russian forces swept into Kherson, was arrested in June and put in solitary confinement. In the fall, as Ukrainian forces advanced on the city, Mr. Kolykhaev’s jailers moved him deeper inside Russian-held territory, according to witnesses. He has not been heard from since. – New York Times

Two citizens of the United States were arrested after they were caught sending U.S. aviation technology to Russia. – Washington Examiner

In a remote German wood away from prying eyes, around 40 Ukrainians are taking a crash course on one of the West’s most advanced air defence systems, already confident it will enable them to better ward off Russian strikes once they return home. – Reuters 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Moscow had been forced to suspend its participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty because Washington was using it to help Ukraine attack Russian strategic sites. – Reuters 

The US warned companies to be on guard for transactions that could help Russia evade western sanctions, especially if they’re linked to China, Turkey and a handful of other nations, as officials look to step up sanctions enforcement a year into the invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

China and Russia refused to join other Group of 20 nations in a statement in which most members condemned Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, showing divisions remain entrenched on how to end a conflict that has roiled the global economy. – Bloomberg

President Joe Biden is about to do something he never would if it involved the military. He’s effectively sending Ukrainian forces into what promises to be a hellish, bloody ground assault without the benefit of air cover. – Washington Examiner

The Biden administration “has put forward a serious proposal” to Moscow that would release detained American citizen Paul Whelan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. – Washington Examiner  

The Kremlin funded at least 20 torture centers for Ukrainians in Kherson, which Russian forces occupied for many months before it was freed during a Ukrainian counteroffensive late last year, according to a new report. – The Hill  

Russia is the only country in the world to lose soft power as its invasion of Ukraine has caused its international reputation to plummet, according to brand evaluation consultancy Brand Finance’s Global Soft Power Index 2023. – Jerusalem Post

Adam Taylor writes: At 72, Lavrov is already two years over the expected retirement age for Russian civil servants. Speculation has been rife for years that he would step down soon. But for Western capitals, there’s a worrying question: Who would replace him? And then a worrying follow-up: If Russia’s top diplomat is so sidelined, what difference would it make anyway? – Washington Post

Josh Rogin writes: The Ukrainians know that using cluster weapons comes at political and diplomatic costs for them, but they have decided they need to use them anyway. Because it is their lives on the line, it is their risk to take, and we should honor their request. – Washington Post

Thomas Meaney writes: The actual official reluctance to include Ukraine in NATO has rarely been clearer, while the public embrace of Kyiv has never been more florid. In the meantime, European leaders may soon find themselves in the unenviable position of convincing Ukrainians that access to the common market and a European Marshall Fund is a reasonable exchange for “complete victory.” – New York Times

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Regardless, Bakhmut has become the war’s center of gravity for both sides. It has been a precarious situation for months now. The resiliency and tenacity of Ukrainian soldiers are on full display as they stand their ground. Those soldiers deserve increased Western support. – Washington Examiner 

Dalibor Rohac writes: The same is true elsewhere. The EU has been criminally negligent by failing to provide a credible path of economic and political integration to countries in the Balkans and to Georgia, Moldova — and, indeed for a long time, Ukraine itself. The horrors Russia has unleashed in the past year are an opportunity to rectify this collective failure of the Western alliance and bring some of these straying countries into the fold. – New York Post 

Kateryna Stepanenko, Riley Bailey, Grace Mappes, Angela Howard, George Barros, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Kremlin accused Ukraine of conducting a border incursion in Bryansk Oblast, Russia, on March 2 — a claim that Ukrainian officials denied. The alleged Bryansk incident generated speculations from Russian officials and ultranationalist groups about the Kremlin’s response to the situation. […] Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that the Wagner Group has launched recruiting efforts through Russian sports clubs. Russian occupation officials denied reports of the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russian territories. – Institute for the Study of War 

Michael Guy writes: As the war in Ukraine rages on, and peace talks have yet to commence, it’s long past time we ask ourselves if helping Kyiv regain control of eastern Ukraine is worth the risks, and if there isn’t another way forward. – The National Interest 


The attack by the settlers—which left one Palestinian dead and 390 injured, according to Palestinian health officials—was part of an escalating wave of tit-for-tat violence in the West Bank as a new, right-wing Israeli government moves to expand Israeli settlements and continue a prolonged counterterrorism campaign that began last spring. – Wall Street Journal

Fighters like Abu Dhraa are not tied to a party or a political ideology. But they have easy access to guns and are committed to the fight. In their youth and independence, they represent a new kind of threat — not only to Israel, but to an ever-weaker Palestinian Authority, run by unelected men in their 70s and 80s. – Washington Post

The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces shot and killed a teenage boy Thursday in the north of the occupied West Bank, the latest in a flare-up of violence that has raged for months. – Associated Press

The top U.S. military officer, Army General Mark Milley, has arrived in Israel to discuss regional security issues with his Israeli counterparts, his spokesperson said on Friday. – Reuters 

Israelis block city highways as police fire stun grenades. Soldiers clash with Jewish settlers in the West Bank. An arch enemy in the Middle East seeks new arms. – Bloomberg 

The United States finds itself in an increasingly delicate position as it works to continue supporting one of its staunchest allies in Israel while also drawing a firm line in condemning far-right leaders in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government calling for widespread violence against Palestinians. – Washington Examiner 

These comments sparked controversy among nations allied with Israel, specifically the United States and some nations involved in the Abraham Accords agreement. Israel’s neighbor, Jordan, expressed outrage at Smotrich’s comments, while the United Arab Emirates simply responded by calling the finance minister’s words “racist.”- Jerusalem Post

The armed forces of Israel and the United States have wrapped up one of their most tactically involved joint exercises ever, with soldiers from the allied nations practicing fighting alongside one another at a time when both sides faced heightened risks from insurgent groups in the Middle East. – Newsweek

At the conclusion of the conference the participants released a closing statement which recognizes Azzam’s great influence on the founding of Hamas. […] The statement also includes a list of recommendations for commemorating ‘Azzam, instilling his ideology in the younger generation and teaching his writings. This is not the first time that senior Hamas officials and others identified with Hamas have praised senior members of Al-Qaeda. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

A former senior member of the Mossad Intelligence Agency said on Thursday that the fracture in Israeli society over the government’s judicial overhaul comes at a critical moment with Iran on the cusp of having a nuclear device. – Ynet

A top UN Human Rights Official, Craig Mokhiber, the Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), was accused by pro-Israel watchdog groups, of violating his duty and lacking neutrality in human rights issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Ynet

Up until now, Israelis, who wanted to make their disapproval of the government’s judicial reform known, traveled to major cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, Be’er Sheva or Jerusalem, but as the massive nationwide protests enter their third month, smaller municipalities are also having their say. – Ynet   

A number of suspects fired fireworks towards Israeli vehicles that were crossing Highway 55, adjacent to the Palestinian Arab town of Azzun, located east of Qalqilya. – Arutz Sheva

Mark Regev writes: The public apology ended the crisis, and as the optimists had initially predicted, in the years after 9/11, US-Israel ties did indeed go from strength to strength. – Jerusalem Post

Osama Al Sharif writes: The collateral damage from the collapse of the Aqaba agreement could inflame the situation in the West Bank a few weeks before the beginning of Ramadan. The PA could fall apart at any time and that is fine by Netanyahu’s far-right partners. What could come next is a cycle of violence that no one can contain. A third Intifada could very well spell the end of the two-state solution and open a Pandora’s box on all sorts of extreme possibilities. – Middle East Institute  


Turkey has imposed a 40% additional tariff on imports of motor vehicles with only electric motors from China, a presidential decision published in the country’s Official Gazette showed on Friday. – Reuters 

Turkey is establishing a fund to rebuild areas devastated by last month’s earthquakes, which would sit outside the regular budget and allow the government to act without having to abide by fiscal rules. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s opposition bloc is no closer to naming a candidate to contest President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and risks blowing a rare chance to dent his dominance at elections in less than three months. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Lebanon’s ongoing presidential vacuum is cause for grave concern, the country’s international backers said on Thursday, describing the current political situation as “unsustainable.”- Reuters 

A Syrian Hezbollah agent was indicted for espionage and terrorism, the Attorney-General’s Office announced, after the suspect was caught in an IDF ambush when he infiltrated Israeli territory on January 27. – Jerusalem Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: At the same time, the Pentagon should use its good offices with the Tunisian military to warn the generals against backing the dictator. Biden should also follow through on threats to suspend US financial aid to Tunisia — including military assistance — until it is demonstrably back on the path to democracy. […] Having signally failed to protect Tunisia’s democracy, Biden must now make amends. – Bloomberg

Ranw Hassan writes: In social media, the muqawama rebrand themselves to potentially bypass the U.S. Department of Justice shutdowns. They use slightly different branding, and similar names with small variations, and altered URLs to stay open and reach their audience. The challenge to investigators is that uncovering these variations require monitoring their mother channels on Telegram to notice any changes to their branding on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or websites. – Washington Institute 

Feyzullah Tuna Aygün writes: Nevertheless, ensuring transparent elections is a key pillar in a more stable, functional, and representative political process in Iraq. Ultimately, the future of Iraq will depend on the ability of its leaders and citizens to work together in the face of these challenges, and to build a more inclusive and equitable society that can meet the needs of all its people. – Washington Institute 

Aisha Al-Sarihi writes: Without dedicated and systematic implementation efforts to close the gap between the current state and scale of technological, financial, and institutional efforts and where the GCC countries need to be to ensure a net-zero future, the region’s ambitions might not become a reality. Timely implementation of climate policies that support net-zero goals, while challenging, will be imperative to support countries’ economic diversification efforts and mitigate the future implications of global climate policies that could imperil their hydrocarbons riches. – Middle East Institute   

Adam Lammon writes: The country has failed to elect a new president since its former president, Michel Aoun, left office last October, leaving it in the hands of a caretaker government. This constitutional crisis is only one more problem upon a mountain of challenges that the Lebanese must summit before their situation improves. In this light, the arrest of two senior Hezbollah financiers is laudable, but ultimately a sideshow for the Lebanese people, whose country stands on the edge of a precipice. – The National Interest 

Korean Peninsula

North Koreans are experiencing widespread hunger and dying of starvation as the country suffers one of the worst food crises in decades as a result of its international isolation and natural disasters that have damaged crops, reducing yields. – Wall Street Journal

The US and South Korea plan to hold large-scale military drills in a move set anger Pyongyang, which has promised an unprecedented response to the exercises and threatened to turn the Pacific Ocean into its “firing range.” – Bloomberg

South Korea doesn’t need nuclear arms to deter the threat from North Korea, the country’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said in an exclusive interview with CNN – even as public opinion swings the other way amid Asia’s accelerating arms race. – CNN


The United States is adding 37 entities to its trade blacklist for activities including contributing to Russia’s army, supporting China’s military and facilitating or engaging in human rights abuses in Myanmar and China, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. – Reuters 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not meet China’s foreign minister on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in India as the two sides had already had extended talks in Munich last month, the U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The White House and Congress are working to blunt the national-security risk from various Chinese social-media apps, beyond just Washington’s recent high-profile target TikTok, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. – Bloomberg

The fractious U.S.-China relationship — and assertions of Beijing’s blame for those tensions — dominated legislative discussions on Capitol Hill this week. Hearings of seven congressional committees — including the Senate’s Space, Science and Technology Committee and the House Oversight Committee — aired concerns about the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s perceived threat to U.S. economic and national security on Tuesday. – Politico 

Editorial: These and other information gaps are not trivial. China has claimed the virus came from abroad and attempted to blame frozen-food imports or a U.S. military biological research laboratory. Beijing’s disinformation and propaganda are an inadequate and counterproductive response to the large, unanswered questions. It is time for China to permit a serious investigation — and cooperate with it — to find the truth. – Washington Post

Peggy Noonan writes: We close with our usual advice to governments. They are full of people who don’t necessarily think honesty is the best policy but do think it’s a policy, one of many they might choose. They should always do so, but especially in crises they have to play it straight. What you don’t know, admit. No one knew, as the virus was breaking, its exact origin. China wouldn’t help. – Wall Street Journal

Fareed Zakaria writes: But it is also true that U.S. policy has changed. Today, we have a strong bipartisan view of the allegedly existential danger posed by the Chinese Communist Party, which implies that regime change would be the only solution to this problem. But has this comfortable consensus created a more secure world for Americans (and others)? Or are we moving down a path that takes us toward decades of arms races, crises, perhaps even war? – Washington Post

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: Beijing’s game of arsenals, however it plays out, is not about Putin winning or losing in Ukraine. It is about Xi winning — and, at the end of the day, Washington losing. If that is to be avoided, the U.S. must again without delay begin rebuilding its own arsenals of democracy. It is a game of arsenals and the U.S. is perilously behind. – The Hill  

Zhou Bo writes: The war in Ukraine has nothing to do with China. But the longer it drags on, the more people will look to Beijing as a broker. During the current raging conflict, peaceful settlement may look like a pipe dream. But make no mistake: China’s role is looming ever larger. – Financial Times

Jo Inge Bekkevold writes: China’s geopolitical position, including its lack of true superpower status, has two main strategic implications. First, in a short to medium-term perspective, the U.S.-China rivalry will be regional—restricted to Asia and the Indo-Pacific—and a predominantly naval contest. […] The other and more long-term strategic implication concerns any attempts by China to leapfrog the geopolitical constraints of its home region. The manner in which China sets about doing this, and United States’ efforts to prevent it, would then define their rivalry. – Foreign Policy 

South Asia

The foreign ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies failed on Thursday to reach consensus on a wide-reaching agenda addressing poverty, corruption and counterterrorism because of persistent disagreements over the war in Ukraine, a blow to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had urged nations to set aside their differences. – Washington Post

The foreign ministers of India and China met Thursday on the sidelines of a gathering in New Delhi of top diplomats from the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations, signaling a thaw in their relationship, which has been tense since 2020. – Associated Press

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

Russia cannot be allowed to wage war with impunity, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday after meeting his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia in New Delhi. – Reuters 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni asked for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s help on Thursday in facilitating “just peace” in Ukraine, as foreign ministers of some of the world’s largest economies met in New Delhi. – Reuters 

Sanjaya Baru writes: If just these four points were agreed to at the G-20 summit in New Delhi later this year, then it would mark a major turning point for the group, which has not had much to show for its global leadership lately. With India at the helm, the time has come for the G-20 to help the global south in a dramatic fashion. – Foreign Policy 


Apple Inc. partner Foxconn Technology Group plans to invest about $700 million on a new plant in India to ramp up local production, people familiar with the matter said, underscoring an accelerating shift of manufacturing away from China as Washington-Beijing tensions grow. – Bloomberg

A recently revived defense agreement between the US and the Philippines could “be a welcome development for us” if American forces return to Subic Bay, said Rolen Paulino, the authority’s chairman, in an interview. – Bloomberg

The top diplomats of Australia, India, Japan and the United States said Friday their Indo-Pacific-focused bloc is not aimed at countering China but released a statement littered with buzzwords and phrases that reflect growing unease over China’s influence in the region. – Associated Press

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said during a visit to the Philippines that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must prove it is “relevant” in helping to resolve the crisis in Myanmar. – Reuters 

A Russian submarine in the Sea of Japan has hit a land target over 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) away with a Kalibr cruise missile in a drill, Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday, the same type of missile Moscow uses in the Ukraine conflict. – Reuters 

Taiwan’s government believes China is set to renew a charm offensive targeting “opinion leaders” to win hearts and minds as the island gears up for a presidential election in less than a year, a security agency said in an internal report. – Reuters 

China will not attempt to invade Taiwan before the end of the decade because it understands the high cost, the senior Pentagon official in charge of Indo-Pacific security said Thursday. – USNI News

Gearoid Reidy writes: The episode also speaks to the relative weakness and disorganization of Kishida’s administration. The G-20 schedule was known well in advance and could have been prioritized. Even if it wasn’t, Kishida could have insisted on breaking tradition — there would have been howls from the domestic media, but what else is new? After all, foreign policy is one area where presenteeism, ceremony and simply being seen actually are important. – Bloomberg 

Bradley A. Thayer writes: The U.S. needs a 20:1 rule. A presidential visit to Kyiv should compel a score of visits from the president and other senior officials to Taipei. A dollar for Ukrainian security should be matched by 20 for Taiwan. More importantly, Taiwan should receive orders of magnitude more attention from the national security community, the Pentagon, and the intelligence community. The aid Taiwan needs must be provided now, and bold measures are required from the Biden administration to deter China. – The Hill 

Benny Avni writes: If so, fears in Taiwan, and similar trepidations in South Korea and elsewhere in the chip manufacturing world, may fizzle. Yet, Washington seems to be hedging on its bet that Taiwan could ultimately survive independently of Beijing — and that is a dangerous signal to send. – New York Sun

Zhiqun Zhu writes: The U.S. government tended to be vague about its long-term goal in Taiwan, and it was believed that Washington did not care about a particular outcome of cross-strait relations so long as the process is peaceful. Today, the United States does not seem to support cross-strait unification anymore, even if it is achieved peacefully. Indeed, Taiwan has become a more valuable strategic asset for both Washington and Beijing as U.S.-China rivalry intensifies. – The National Interest 


Days after being elected chancellor, Olaf Scholz demanded to see his government’s contingency plans in case Russia, Germany’s main energy supplier, suddenly stopped supplies. The response: There was no plan. – Wall Street Journal

There will be no state dinners, no press entourage and little fanfare. On a two-day visit to Washington to see President Biden, Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, wants to get straight to business. The question many in Berlin are asking is what that business is. – New York Times

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned China not to arm Russia in its war on Ukraine and expressed disappointment that the government in Beijing has dialed down its condemnation of the Kremlin’s aggression. – Bloomberg

U.S. President Joe Biden wants both Finland and Sweden in NATO and is more focused on both countries joining rather than them doing so at the same time, the White House said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Group of 20 (G20) is no longer an economic forum and has become a platform to discuss geopolitical issues, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Friday. – Reuters 

A delegation of Hungarian lawmakers plans to visit Sweden on March 7 to discuss the Nordic country’s bid to join NATO, a Swedish parliament spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Hugo Blewett-Mundy writes: It is critical to ensure that Russia and the open criminality it fosters do not succeed in wrecking the future of other countries. Defense and security policy should acknowledge this risk and place Moldova’s strategic importance as an aspiring EU member state at its core. […] As Putin’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into a second year, the West can no longer afford to misread Moldova and the extraordinary example of leadership shown by its first female president. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Steven Horrell writes: A coherent strategy and tangible commitment to naval security would help protect Ukraine from future hostility and create opportunities for Western allies to engage with other friends in the region, particularly Georgia and Moldova, to ensure a joint approach from all countries around the Black Sea to counter the Russian threat. – Center for European Policy Analysis 

Hotaka Nakamura writes: Given Ankara’s interest in minimizing the risk of escalation in the Russo-Ukrainian war, it should contribute to the broader Black Sea region’s underwater domain awareness as well as monitor key vulnerabilities that could be exploited or put at risk by a malign actor — whether Moscow or anybody else. Short of a wider North Atlantic Alliance mission, Turkey should actively cooperate with other Black Sea states, including non-NATO member Georgia, in pursuing their own regional security framework that would include as its mission the protection of submarine cables in the Black Sea. – Middle East Institute  


President Emmanuel Macron of France has embarked on a quest to win favor across Africa on the basis of a policy of “profound humility,” chastened by a decade-long frustrated military intervention and a wave of anti-French sentiment in France’s former African colonies. – New York Times

Ghana started talks with China to restructure bilateral loans as the West African nation slowly moves forward in its goal to reorganize about $30 billion of public debt. – Bloomberg

French President Emmanuel Macron promised 50 million euros ($52.9 million) to a new global scheme to reward countries for protecting their forests and biodiversity on Thursday as he called for more concrete action on global climate commitments. – Reuters 

The Americas

The Treasury sanctioned eight Mexican companies accused of being involved in a timeshare fraud scheme controlled by one of Mexico’s most infamous drug cartels. – Washington Examiner

William P. Barr writes: The cartels have Mexico in a python-like stranglehold. American leadership is needed to help Mexico break free. We can’t accept a failed narco-state on our border, providing sanctuary to narco-terrorist groups preying on the American people. – Wall Street Journal

Ian Cooper writes: After taking a drubbing in the press, Trudeau decided to change tack, claiming the leaked reports were dangerous because of unidentified “inaccuracies.” Meanwhile, his government continues to study the merits of a foreign agent registry, but it is making no promises. He has also refused to conduct a public inquiry into China’s interference in Canada’s elections, despite a request from the country’s former chief electoral officer. – Washington Examiner 

Latin America

The Argentine government has again asked the United Kingdom to restart negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, the Argentine Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that he will encourage countries to join peace talks to end the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. – Reuters 

Mark L. Schneider writes: What is clear is that new ways must be found to end the slide toward authoritarianism that we see taking place in the region. To do that, our institutions must demonstrate to people from the pampas of Argentina to the playas of Mexico and the Caribbean that democracy can deliver. – The Hill 


Twitter resisted requests to blacklist accounts from outside groups that receive funding from the federal government, according to internal company documents released Thursday. – Washington Examiner

Innocent Americans got swept up in shoddy, US government-funded research aimed at getting Twitter users banned for allegedly spreading “foreign” disinformation, the latest “Twitter Files” report revealed Thursday. – New York Post

James Bovard writes: “Disinformation” is often simply the lag time between the pronouncement and the debunking of government falsehoods. […] The latest Twitter Files is a fresh spur for Congress to take a scorched-earth approach to expose federal censorship regimes. – New York Post 

Frank J. Cilluffo writes: The new strategy lifts cyber up to meet the challenge, taking it mainstream and aligning it with more traditional instruments, such as our game plans for national security, defense, diplomacy, and economic security. – Newsweek

Rishi Iyengar writes: “Well, we need far more than just five countries now working on cybersecurity, so what does that regime look like?” Gourley asked. “We’re going to need, in the implementation plan, to see what kind of treaty organization could we stand up—like the cyber version of Five Eyes.” – Foreign Policy 


All F-35 fighter jets should be retrofitted within 90 days with a fix intended to solve a potential engine vibration problem, the F-35 Joint Program Office said Thursday. – Defense News

The U.S. Space Development Agency has awarded Raytheon Technologies a $250 million contract to build seven missile-tracking satellites. – Defense News

Jonathan D. Caverley writes: While it may seem absurd to suggest that the world’s largest arms seller can also be restrained and liberal, this is in fact a prerequisite. Unlike other nations with defense industries, which depend on exports to survive, America can afford to say no. A century of conventional-arms treaties has shown little success in limiting proliferation. Perhaps it’s time to try good old-fashioned monopolistic pricing. – Wall Street Journal

Jacquelyn Schneider writes: To avoid becoming Siena (or the Soviet Union), Washington must remember that having the right technology is necessary but insufficient to win wars. If the United States hopes to persevere against Russia in the short term and China in the long term, it must consider the economic impact of technology even as it pursues a technological advantage. – Foreign Affairs 

John Ferrari writes: It convinced Congress that Futures Command was different and that the Army should be trusted with multi-billion dollar, decade-long new builds. As the service has sidelined the new command and is back to developing systems using the same old processes, Congress should question the Army on these areas and adjust the service’s programs accordingly. – Breaking Defense