Fdd's overnight brief

March 6, 2019

In The News


The surprise resignation of Iran’s foreign minister last week was a rare public display of the jockeying between hard-liners and the more moderate camp within the clerical leadership, a divide that has been exacerbated by the country’s deepening economic crisis, analysts said. – New York Times

An activist group says a prominent human rights lawyer in Iran who defended women protesting against the Islamic Republic’s mandatory headscarf, or hijab, has been convicted and faces years in prison. – Associated Press

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was not informed about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s trip to Tehran last week and that was a reason why he submitted his resignation, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States on Wednesday of plotting to use economic pressure to overthrow the Islamic republic’s clerical establishment, and ruled out the possibility of talks with Washington. – Reuters

Qassem Soleimani’s role in a political crisis in Iran highlights the influence of the leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, who has acquired celebrity status at home after being largely invisible for years. – Reuters

On the morning of Sunday March 3, Iranian teachers embarked on a nationwide, three-day sit-in, which had been called by the Council for Coordination of Teachers’ Associations. – IranWire

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited the bucolic Gilan province this week, strolling in a forest and pushing economic development that will link Iran’s strategic northern province with railways and economic corridors to Azerbaijan and via Kazakhstan to China. – Jerusalem Post


U.S. authorities have been developing several money-laundering cases targeting the flow of billions through the Paraguayan hub, which they consider a giant washing machine for Latin American drug profits, knockoff consumer goods and terrorist fund-raising. Authorities say some of that money — minus 15 percent in fees charged by Paraguayan and other currency exchanges — ends up in the coffers of Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group aligned with Iran. – Miami Herald

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday welcomed Britain’s decision to outlaw the political wing of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, describing it as an “important and constructive” step. – Agence France-Presse

The United States has sanctioned Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, a radical Muslim militia group of about 10,0000 fighters, as well as its leader Akram Kaabi, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday. – Reuters


U.S.-backed forces in Syria are holding more than 2,000 suspected Islamic State fighters, U.S. defense officials said, at least double previous estimates and an obstacle to Trump administration plans to withdraw American forces from Syria. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump announced the complete, immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria with a tweet and a video in December, overruling his generals, alarming Congress and allies and causing his defense secretary and another top aide to quit in protest. But on Tuesday, he effectively reversed himself with a quick scrawl in black Sharpie — telling lawmakers he now agrees that some U.S. forces should remain. – Washington Post

Two months after declaring all U.S. troops are leaving Syria, President Donald Trump wrote to members of Congress that he now agrees “100%” with keeping a military presence in Syria. – NBC News

As final defeat looms, militants of the Islamic State group have remained organized and ruthless to their last breath. Keeping institutions functioning in their last shred of territory in Syria, they are continuing benefits like food and money to supporters while their religious police and fighters still impose their rule of fear and brutality. – Associated Press

Hundreds of Islamic State militants have surrendered as they left the group’s last enclave in eastern Syria amid more than 6,500 people, mostly civilians, who were evacuated in the last 24 hours, a spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian force battling the jihadists said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Henry Foy, Chloe Cornish, Asser Khattab, and Laura Pitel write: In Idlib that alliance is breaking down. Turkey is desperate to avoid a military onslaught that could drive hundreds of thousands of refugees towards its border. Yet Russia wants the extremists eliminated and the war brought to an end. And Syria’s regime wants to permanently subdue any remaining rebels. […]This stretched diplomacy brings potential disaster ever closer. – Financial Times


The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Washington has made clear to Turkey that if it proceeds with the purchase of a Russian air defense system the United States will have to reassess Ankara’s participation in the F-35 fighter program. – Reuters

President Donald Trump’s decision to strip some Turkish exporters of their preferential trade status is taken from a playbook that’s been effective in the past. American officials are pressing Ankara to abandon its longstanding agreement to buy a Russian air defense system. The last time Washington ratcheted up pressure on its NATO ally to force it to yield on a key issue — and release a long-held American pastor — it drove the Turkish economy to the brink of collapse, and it’s not fully recovered. – Bloomberg

Courts in Turkey are expected to finish 40 trials involving around 500 mostly military personnel accused of plotting a coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. – Al Jazeera


The United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, has delayed publishing a database of companies doing business with Israeli settlements in occupied territories, garnering praise from pro-Israel groups and outrage from human rights organizations eager to see the report released immediately. – New York Times

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials, AOC, retweeted a known supporter of the  Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US State Department designated terror organization. – Jerusalem Post

Announcing the launch last week of a Global Mayors Coalition Against Hate, Antisemitism and BDS were Mayor Uwe Becker of Frankfurt, Germany; Mayor Gabriel Groisman of Bal Harbour, Fla.; and Mayor Haim Bibas of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut in Israel. – JNS

Egyptian officials have reportedly sent Hamas a message from Israel that warned the terror group it is playing with fire by instigating a near-constant stream of attacks from Gaza during the Israeli election campaign. – Times of Israel

The IDF on Wednesday notified the family of the Palestinian suspected of the brutal raping and murdering of an Israeli teenage girl that their home will be demolished. “Today, March 6, 2019, the family of the terrorist Arafat Irfaiya was notified of the IDF’s intent to demolish the terrorist’s residence,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit – Jerusalem Post

An article in the Saudi government daily Al-Watan, by the daily’s columnist, Muhammad Al-Sa’idi, claimed that the Jews deliberately promote the publication and circulation of antisemitic literature in Arab countries that describes them as secretly running the world. This, in order to convince the Arabs of their power and thereby demoralize and frighten them. […]Al-Sa’idi claimed further that Israel’s real foreign policy is the opposite of what its officials present: it maintains close ties with its alleged enemies, such as Iran and Qatar, while pretending to be friendly with countries that actually have no ties with it, like Saudi Arabia. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Anna Ahronheim writes: Despite both sides not being interested in another war, a continued deterioration of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure will continue to put pressure on Hamas, which could lead to another violent clash with Israel. Hamas has in the past provoked confrontation with Israel to detract from internal issues. However, one of Hamas’s primary fears is that the people of Gaza will one day rise up against it, which will lead to its fall from power and the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Strip. – Jerusalem Post

Elior Levy writes: A faltering economy in the West Bank, incendiary airborne devices dispatched from the impoverished Gaza Strip, renewed and spiraling tensions on the Temple Mount and protests staged by Palestinian security prisoners jailed in Israel might cause a conflagration on all four fronts. While all four issues are extremely volatile for different reasons, violence erupting with just one of them could be enough to set the other three aflame. – Ynet

Middle East & North Africa

Officials in Saudi Arabia are working to loosen tourism restrictions this year for foreign visitors including Americans, people involved in the effort said, easing travel to help diversify the economy of the cloistered kingdom. – Wall Street Journal

European countries will urge Saudi Arabia this week to release detained activists and cooperate with a U.N.-led probe into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the first rebuke of the kingdom at the Human Rights Council, diplomats and campaigners said. – Reuters

Libya should hold parliamentary and presidential elections by year end, the internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Tuesday. The United Nations had planned for the North African oil producer to hold elections on Dec. 10 as a way out of conflict since the toppling of late leader Muammar Gaddafi but a spike in violence and lack of understanding between its rival camps had made this impossible. – Reuters

Iraq and the Kurdish regional government have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State group, often using torture to coerce confessions, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday. – Associated Press

David Pollock writes: Of all the Gulf monarchies, Kuwait’s actively elected parliament and opposition groups distinguish it as the one where public opinion matters most. A rare recent poll shows that much of the country’s public lines up with its government on many (though not all) key issues, despite the country’s mixed Sunni/Shiite population and widespread popular concern regarding corruption. […]Thus, in this counter-intuitive interpretation, a major social divide revealed by this survey data is precisely one of the factors behind Kuwait’s political stability. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is restoring a missile launch site it previously claimed to be dismantling as an overture to the U.S., according to newly released commercial satellite photos and people briefed on South Korean intelligence. – Wall Street Journal

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said on Tuesday that the United States would look at ramping up sanctions on North Korea if Pyongyang did not scrap its nuclear weapons program. – Reuters

Two U.S. senators sought to dial up pressure on North Korea on Tuesday by reintroducing a bill to impose sanctions on any bank that does business with its government, with the endorsement of the parents of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. college student who died after being imprisoned by Pyongyang. – Reuters

A classified briefing with President Trump’s point man for North Korea negotiations won Democratic support for his strategy and favorable reviews from top lawmakers. – Washington Examiner

Henry Olsen writes: Trump wants deals on trade with China and denuclearization with North Korea, and many allies wonder whether he will cast aside South Korea in pursuit of these pacts. They worry that the cancellation of these exercises is just the first step toward withdrawing U.S. troops and perhaps even canceling the alliance itself. […]Trump has made a mistake. He should not compound that error by allowing North Korea or the Chinese to think they can bargain away our alliance in exchange for vain promises or a smaller trade deficit. – Washington Post

Olivia Enos writes: U.S. sanctions policy is designed to shift the risk calculus of the sanctioned country, encouraging it to cease violating U.S. and international laws. Diplomacy, if crafted appropriately, should build on that momentum and shift behavior through different means. A cohesive strategy toward North Korea would recalibrate our diplomacy to reflect the values outlined in current U.S. policy – that means addressing concerns related to denuclearization, the regime’s missile program, and chemical and biological weapons, as well as concerns related to the Pyongyang’s human rights track record. – Heritage Foundation


Chinese hackers have targeted more than two dozen universities in the U.S. and around the globe as part of an elaborate scheme to steal research about maritime technology being developed for military use, cybersecurity experts and current and former U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

“Made in China 2025,” a government-led industrial program at the center of the contentious U.S.-China trade dispute, is officially gone—but in name only. During a nearly 100-minute speech to China’s legislature Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang dropped any reference to the plan that the Trump administration has criticized as a subsidy-stuffed program to make China a global technology leader at the expense of the U.S. The policy had been a highlight of Mr. Li’s State-of-the-Nation-like address for three years running. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese tech company Huawei on Tuesday opened a cybersecurity lab in Brussels, the heart of the European Union, as it tries to win over government leaders and fight back U.S. allegations that its equipment poses a national security risk. – Associated Press

China will bar government authorities from demanding overseas companies hand over technology secrets in exchange for market share, a top economic official said Wednesday, addressing a key complaint at the heart of the China-U.S. trade dispute. – Associated Press

Despite signals from Chinese and U.S. officials that some truce could soon be at hand, there are few signs of any truly transformed trade relationship. Beijing’s longstanding policy of subsidizing its own businesses and charges that it illicitly obtains U.S. technology remain key obstacles. – Associated Press

Editorial: Twice, including late last month, [President Trump] has suggested that he might include Ms. Weng’s case in a trade bargain he is trying to conclude with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That would be a gross violation of U.S. legal norms that we hope his new attorney general, William P. Barr, would resist. But the damage is done: No doubt Mr. Trump confirmed the Chinese belief that the case against Ms. Meng is political, and that hostage-taking is an appropriate response. – Washington Post

Tim Culpan writes: A massive hacking campaign reportedly waged by China against more than two dozen universities doesn’t fall into that mold, and looks to be a significant escalation of Beijing’s cyber-espionage operations. […]universities need to ensure they’re not naive about the threats they face. Many have cybersecurity policies in place, with various levels of defense installed on their networks. As the global cyber war escalates, more coordination will be required across departments and at the individual faculty level. – Bloomberg

Erin Dunne writes: The U.S. needs to respond by making cybersecurity into a national defense project, not some kind of add-on. Cyberdefense must not be limited to the government or contractors but it must also include academic researchers, institutions focused on emergent technologies with military applications, and private sector companies working with these technologies and the government. The U.S. must no more tolerate cyberattacks than it would physical theft of data or attacks. – Washington Examiner

Anthony Kim and Terry Miller write: The past 40 years of U.S.–Taiwan relations under the framework of the TRA have been a true partnership for freedom. Now is the time to take bold steps to ensure that, in the next 40 years, Taiwan remains a reliable and like-minded ally for America in advancing freedom, opportunity, and prosperity in the Indo–Pacific region and beyond. – Heritage Foundation


Militants in Afghanistan set off a suicide blast on Wednesday morning and stormed a construction company near the airport in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, killing at least four people, officials said. – Associated Press

A U.S. State Department spokesman on Tuesday declined to elaborate on a comment by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday in which he called the Afghan Taliban terrorists. – Reuters

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would end the nearly two-decade-long Afghanistan War. – The Hill

South Asia

Under international pressure to crack down on militant groups, Pakistan said it detained two men India has cited as terrorists and banned another militant group focused on India. – Wall Street Journal

The Trump administration is planning to scrap India’s and Turkey’s participation in a privileged trading program that allows certain developing economies to avoid tariffs on some shipments to the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

High-resolution satellite images reviewed by Reuters show that a religious school run by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in northeastern Pakistan appears to be still standing days after India claimed its warplanes had hit the Islamist group’s training camp on the site and killed a large number of militants. – Reuters

Pakistan has stopped an Indian submarine from entering its waters, the navy said Tuesday, as tensions continue to run high between the nuclear-armed foes. – Agence France-Presse

Mihir Sharma writes: Both India and U.S. need to think harder about what they want to get out of each other. The U.S. needs to remember that a close relationship with a prosperous India is the best way to ensure the survival of a world order that has long benefited the U.S. above all. And the government in New Delhi needs to remember that the U.S. can only be pushed so far — and that India’s own best interests lie in participating fully in the trading system that has made so many other countries rich. – Bloomberg


The Philippines’ top defense official said on Tuesday that the government should review a decades-old treaty with the United States, its longtime ally, to avoid provoking a potential armed conflict with China in the disputed South China Sea. – New York Times

The US Air Force flew B-52H Stratofortress heavy, long-range bombers through the disputed South and East China Seas on Monday. – Business Insider

Jeffrey Wilson writes: If Indo-Pacific governments face stark ‘either/or’ choices when choosing an infrastructure partner, this could lead to divisions into competing economic blocs. To avoid this outcome, the U.S. should not conditionalize its infrastructure diplomacy to exclude or de-prioritize countries that participate in the BRI. Extending support on an open basis, to all projects that satisfy appropriate commercial and governance requirements, will offer the broadest menu of options to governments. These steps will ensure that connectivity integrates, rather than divides, the twenty-first century Indo-Pacific. – Reconnecting Asia


The top American general in Europe said the U.S. military does not yet have a plan to prevent Russia from building more nuclear-capable intermediate-range missiles once a treaty between Washington and Moscow banning the rockets ends in five months.  – Washington Post

The top U.S. military commander in Europe warned Tuesday of a growing Russian threat and is calling for more troops, warships and aircraft, saying he’s “not comfortable yet with the deterrent posture” of the American troop presence. – Defense News

Russia wants U.S. nuclear weapons and missiles systems “eliminated” from Europe, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday, escalating a roiling controversy over Russian violations of a landmark arms control treaty. – Washington Examiner

Adam Taylor writes: Now, more than 200 days later, it is still not clear what Trump and Putin discussed in Helsinki. And although some details may be coming out, they are far from conclusive. […]The lack of clarity about what Trump may have said during his meeting with Putin adds another layer of uncertainty to the Trump administration’s already opaque Syria policy. Bolton’s retelling of this detail may reveal Trump backing out of a privately argued policy — or Bolton using the secrecy surrounding the meeting to push a policy he favored. – Washington Post


French President Emmanuel Macron called for new rules and institutions to strengthen the European Union and stave off the challenge of rising nationalism in a manifesto that marked the opening salvo of his party’s campaign for the European Parliament elections in May. – Wall Street Journal

Three suspicious packages that appeared to contain homemade bombs capable of igniting a small fire were found Tuesday in and around transport hubs in London, the authorities said. […]The London Metropolitan Police said that a counterterrorism unit had been called in, and was treating the incidents as linked, but that it was “keeping an open mind regarding motives.” – New York Times

The partner of a French prison inmate was killed by police on Tuesday after they stabbed two guards in an attack the government called a terrorist incident. – Reuters

Top British Jewish groups slammed UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Tuesday after it was revealed that a member of his staff had secretly interfered in an ongoing case of antisemitism within the party. – Algemeiner

William Echikson writes: European governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimizing their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews. […]Today’s revisionism coincides with a rise of extreme nationalist and far-right political movements dedicated to rolling back democracy, the rule of law, and its modern-day beacon, the multi-ethnic, tolerant European Union. Around Europe, the generation of Holocaust persecutors and survivors is dying out. Post-war anti-Semitic taboos are fading. Migration is bringing large numbers of Arabs harboring anti-Semitic sentiments. – Times of Israel


Burundi’s government has forced the United Nations human rights office in the troubled East African country to close after 23 years, the U.N. rights chief announced with “deep regret” on Tuesday. – Associated Press

In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote in the prophetic The Souls of Black Folk that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Eventually, he became a stalwart friend of the Jewish people. […]Zionism provided a model for Du Bois’ own pan-African ideology: “The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews.” – Algemeiner

Rwanda on Tuesday accused Uganda of supporting rebel groups opposed to President Paul Kagame’s government, amid a resurgence of hostility between the African neighbours. – Reuters

United States

Democratic leaders moved Tuesday to broaden a resolution condemning anti-Semitism to encompass other types of religious bigotry after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other liberal lawmakers and groups bristled at the attempt to sanction Rep. Ilhan Omar for comments targeting supporters of Israel. – Washington Post

House Democrats will add language to resolution condemning anti-Semitism so that it also rejects anti-Muslim prejudice. – Washington Examiner

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, citing a “disturbing” rise in anti-Semitism, on Tuesday said the Senate could vote on a measure addressing the issue. – Washington Examiner

House Republicans called on their Democratic counterparts Tuesday to name Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., in the resolution they are proposing to indirectly rebuke the freshman congresswoman over her anti-Israel comments. – Washington Examiner

A video showing white high school students in Alabama insulting black and Jewish people has gone viral, sparking public backlash and an investigation from school officials. – Algemeiner

Editorial: Omar’s hateful and false insinuations about secret and powerful Jewish conspiracies, spread to the wrong quarters, are just the sort that lead to hate crimes and synagogue massacres, a fact to which the congressional resolution clearly alludes. […]Instead of bringing another milquetoast resolution against anti-Semitism, Pelosi should be directing the House Ethics Committee to look into a censure or other more serious rebuke to make an example of Congress’ worst anti-Semite. – Washington Examiner

Editorial:  Clearly, her earlier apologies were insincere. She’s not just criticizing US policy on Israel, as she claims: She’s smearing those who disagree with her as either Jews who put Israel first, or others in the pay (or under the mind control) of the Jewish lobby. Pelosi & Co. won’t get her to stop with their “educational” resolution. In the end, they’re going to have to take a stand against not just anti-Semitism, but their colleague who wallows in it. – New York Post

Eli Lake writes: Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have denounced Omar’s comments, and House members will vote Wednesday on a new resolution to condemn anti-Semitism. It’s unclear whether that resolution will denounce Omar by name, or whether Democrats will strip her of her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as Republicans did when Representative Steve King’s white nationalism finally caught up with him. This much, however, is clear: Democrats have to do more than demand another apology. If the party wants to make a credible case against a nativist president, it cannot look the other way at the nativism of its own members. – Bloomberg

Jonathan Chait writes: Contrary to Omar’s insinuation, at least some Democrats do criticize Israel and its domestic supporters in harsh terms without leaning on anti-Semitic tropes. An easy way to do this is to recognize that advocating for a strong American alliance with another country is not a form of disloyalty. […]Casting harsh condemnation of Israel as a stalking horse for anti-Semitism is easier if anti-Semitic insinuations are routinely smuggled into the debate. – New York Magazine

Latin America

Since President Trump’s May announcement that the United States will pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Europe has been stuck in the middle of the diplomatic dispute between Washington and Tehran, with European firms facing U.S. sanctions if they maintain business links with Iran. Now, a Trump administration policy shift over a 1996 U.S. law on Cuba threatens to put European business interests at the heart of another geopolitical dispute. – Washington Post

Times are tough all over, and apparently one of the more critical issues in the world today is distinguishing the proper title of Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó. – Washington Post

The United States is considering imposing new sanctions on Venezuela to increase pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s government to give up power, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Aiming to crack down on money laundering and bribes to overseas governments, the FBI is stepping up its efforts to root out foreign corruption with a new squad of agents based in Miami. The squad will focus its efforts not only on Miami but also in South America, a continent that has been home to some of the Justice Department’s most significant international corruption prosecutions of the last several years. The Miami squad joins three others based in the FBI’s largest field offices — Washington, New York and Los Angeles. – Associated Press

Julio Ricardo Varela writes: These moves by the Rosselló administration are very dangerous. Even the most ardent anti-Maduro nations, particularly those in Latin America, think military intervention and war would be disastrous not only for Venezuela but also for the region. […]Puerto Rico needs to step away from being a foreign player in the most important political story of the Western Hemisphere. Rosselló’s reckless involvement could trigger an armed conflict that could have an immense impact for generations to come. – Washington Post

Mac Margolis writes: Forget armed invasion, an adventure that would require breaking international rules or else securing the imprimatur of the United Nations Security Council — where Venezuelan allies Russia and China hold veto power. Instead, the way to bring Maduro to account would be to petition the world’s highest tribunal, the ICC, to issue a warrant for Maduro’s arrest for human rights crimes […]. The summons alone might not be enough to cause Maduro to resign, but his refusing a direct order from the highest court could steel diplomatic resolve and increase pressure on the Security Council.  – Bloomberg

Hal Brands writes: The Trump administration deserves some credit for putting this strategy together. It was becoming morally untenable and strategically problematic for the U.S. not to be working harder to push Maduro out the door, given the spiraling humanitarian crisis and opportunities for geopolitical mischief created by the regime. Washington is certainly right that any strategy for restoring democracy in Venezuela must focus on “turning” the military. – Bloomberg

Ryan C. Berg writes: Addressing the root causes of migration—insecurity, violence, and lack of opportunity—makes sense. Both the United States and Mexico should want to ensure that emigration is an option for Central Americans rather than a necessary step to a life of dignity. […]Trump and López Obrador are poised to discover, restoring something that once existed and bringing something new into being are entirely different things. Trump and López Obrador ought to be commended for their ambition—if not for their correct reading of history, foresight, patience, and follow-through. – Foreign Policy

Ana Quintana writes: Penalizing the Cuban regime serves two purposes right now. It addresses the longstanding issue of uncompensated claims, and it also punishes the regime for the destabilizing role it has long played in Venezuela. […]Getting Maduro to step aside requires making it more costly for Cuba to continue enabling his dictatorship. The recent U.S. actions demonstrate U.S. policy is correct in linking both issues. It’s now time for international partners and allies to ratchet up the pressure as well. – Heritage Foundation

Cyber Security

Time and money are running short for states to replace aging or inadequate voting machines before the 2020 presidential primaries, according to a report released Tuesday. – Associated Press

Wray, whose remarks came in conversation with Lawfare Executive Editor Susan Hennessey, opened by listing a variety of threats, first by the specific names of the bundles of code, and then broadly framing a picture of a dangerous and anarchic domain. – Fifth Domain

A well-meaning employee that unintentionally exposes federal data is more of a cybersecurity concern than malicious actors for foreign government agencies, according to a March 5 survey by systems management company SolarWinds. – Fifth Domain

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Tuesday that foreign nations are still engaging in disinformation campaigns on social media to stir an already tense political pot in the U.S. – The Hill

Sandeep Baliga, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, and Alexander Wolitzky write: U.S. strategy has not kept pace with the evolving cyber threat. Recent proposals ignore key strategic features of the cyber domain, resulting in overly narrow policies. We must take a global approach to cyber-deterrence, and we must blend aggressive retaliation when the origins of attacks are clear with forbearance when they aren’t. – The National Interest


U.S. Transportation Command is making preparations to push back the retirement of some KC-135 tankers due to delays in receiving the Air Force’s newest aerial refueling plane, the KC-46, the head of the command said Tuesday. – Defense News

U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reapers have been flying unarmed reconnaissance missions from Poland since May, but it wasn’t until this month that the drones became fully operational. – Air Force Times

Raytheon has inked a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to work on its hypersonic tactical boost glide weapon. – C4ISRNET

The U.S. Army will kick off in April a program to test just how effective virtual reality and simulation may be in training students to fly helicopters, with hopes the results could offer a strategy to improve its curriculum and get more would-be pilots in the air faster. – C4ISRNET

To keep U.S. carriers relevant into the 21st century, the Navy needs to restart development of a lethal unmanned aircraft to fly from carrier decks, according to a new study on the future of the carrier air wing. – USNI News

The top American officer in Europe wants two more destroyers stationed in his area of responsibility and a “better pace” of carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups moving through the region, he said during a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. – USNI News

On Monday, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer announced the new rear admirals through an ALNAV notice issued by the Navy’s Personnel Command. – USNI News

Long War

The National Security Agency has halted a counterterrorism program that relied on U.S. telecom carriers to turn over records of domestic calls and text messages so analysts could scrutinize them for clues, according to individuals familiar with the matter and a senior GOP congressional aide. – Washington Post

The father of a British teenager who ran away to join the Islamic State group in Syria said his daughter’s citizenship should not be revoked and that she should return to the U.K. and be punished if it was determined she had committed a crime. – Associated Press

Three small explosive devices in plastic mailing bags arrived at offices for two London airports and at a train station Tuesday, and Irish police said they were helping British counterterrorism police with the investigation. – Associated Press

A prominent French militant who joined the Islamic State group, Jean-Michel Clain, was killed in a mortar strike over the weekend as he struggled with wounds suffered in an earlier airstrike that killed his jihadi brother, his wife said Tuesday after emerging from the group’s last pocket of land in Syria. – Associated Press

A suspected jihadi insisted Tuesday that he’s innocent of terrorism charges over the 2014 killing of four people at Belgium’s Jewish museum, as the jury in his trial prepared to consider its verdict. – Associated Press

Robin Simcox writes: As the legal details get sorted out, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that these two women, and perhaps others, have joined the ranks of opposing enemy forces and actively participated, at some level, in their terrorist activities. There are numerous examples in the West of women actively plotting terrorist attacks. […]The prudent course of action here is for the U.S. to confirm whether each individual is actually a U.S. citizen and engage in an intelligence debrief. Then, if applicable, they should be turned over to federal law enforcement authorities for investigation and possible indictment for federal crimes. – Heritage Foundation

Trump Administration

President Trump plans to nominate the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia., Jessie K. Liu, to become the Justice Department’s No. 3 official, the White House announced Tuesday. – Washington Post

The House Intelligence Committee has hired a former federal prosecutor with a history of trying securities fraud, racketeering and international organized crime to lead its investigation of President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, the panel announced Tuesday. – Washington Post