Fdd's overnight brief

March 6, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iran made fresh promises to increase its cooperation with the United Nations atomic agency on Saturday, but International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi returned from Tehran with no breakthrough over a series of Western concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities. – Wall Street Journal

A crisis over suspected poisonings targeting Iranian schoolgirls escalated Sunday as authorities acknowledged over 50 schools were struck in a wave of possible cases. The poisonings have spread further fear among parents as Iran has faced months of unrest. – Associated Press

The head of the U.N.’s nuclear agency said Saturday that Iran pledged to restore cameras and other monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites and to allow more inspections at a facility where particles of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade were recently detected. – Associated Press 

The United Nations atomic watchdog said Iran still needs to explain precisely how uranium particles enriched to just-below weapons grade came to be at one of its fuel facilities, walking back assertions made just hours before by Tehran’s top nuclear official that the issue was settled. – Bloomberg 

Russia has hesitated to buy ballistic missiles from Iran out of concern that Ukraine’s allies would in response supply Kyiv with long-range rockets, according to assessments by western officials. – Financial Times 

Belgium’s Constitutional Court rejected legal challenges to a prisoner exchange with Iran, setting the stage for the possible swap of a Belgium jailed in Iran for a former Iranian diplomat serving a 20-year sentence in Belgium. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The UN nuclear watchdog chief said Saturday after meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran that any military attack on a nuclear facility was illegal. – Times of Israel 

Amid the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) disclosure this week that Iran accumulated near weapons-grade enriched uranium for its alleged nuclear weapon program, Fox News Digital reported on Sunday that Iran has allegedly secured secret deals with Russia to guarantee deliveries of uranium. – Arutz Sheva 

This woman is one of the biggest enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.The mullahs tried to kill and kidnap Masih Alinejad, 46, in exile in the US. From exile she shakes the brutal Islamic regime and fights to keep the current protests going. – Bild 

A two-year-old child was killed on Friday after Iranian special forces opened fire at the car carrying him and his family in the central city of Esfahan. – Iran International

Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says there is a “growing consensus” among EU member states to designate Iran’s IRGC as a terrorist group over its military support for Russia. – Iran International  

A British-Iranian health worker who joined anti-regime street protests in Tehran still has five shotgun pellets lodged in his body after being fired at repeatedly by Iranian security forces at point-blank range. – The Guardian 

Editorial: Yet, following a similar censure last November, Iran only accelerated its nuclear program. Why doesn’t one of the three European powers, instead, take the matter directly to the United Nations Security Council? There, any of them can unilaterally declare Iran in “material breach” of the nuclear deal and start a “snapback” process to officially nullify the ineffective deal and restore all pre-2015 international sanctions and restrictions. – New York Sun  

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, Spencer Faragasso, and Andrea Stricker write: Concern about Iran’s installation of advanced centrifuges at an undeclared site is magnified as its 60 percent HEU stocks grow. Such a scenario becomes more worrisome and viable, since it requires a relatively small number of advanced centrifuge cascades to rapidly enrich the 60 percent material to weapon-grade. This hybrid strategy involves the diversion of safeguarded HEU and the secret manufacture and deployment of only two or three cascades of advanced centrifuges. With greater uncertainty about the number of advanced centrifuges Iran is making, there is a greater chance of Iran hiding away the requisite number of advanced centrifuges to realize this scenario. – Institute for Science and International Security

Aaron Y. Zelin writes: Tehran and Kabul have far wider bilateral interests than anything related to al-Qaeda, of course, and their numerous public engagements thus far seem like standard diplomatic affairs. Yet the embassy in Iran will provide yet another platform to potentially coordinate their responses if Washington decides to press harder on either regime regarding support for terrorism. – Washington Institute

Majid Nikouei writes: Nevertheless, the question of how the rest of the opposition movement will approach Mousavi will be a bellwether for how expansive this movement can become as Iranians who once supported the vision of the Islamic Republic become disillusioned. The entrenched nature of the Islamic Republic suggests that successfully fighting against it will require cooperation from all colors of the Iranian political carpet who seek to fundamentally alter the state—even including those who once praised Khomeini as Imam. – Washington Institute

Amin Soltani, Annika Ganzeveld, and Frederick W. Kagan write: The Iranian regime’s response to these attacks is anomalous and difficult to explain unless regime officials are complicit in at least allowing the attacks to continue. The most straightforward explanations require that at least some senior regime officials are knowingly allowing these attacks to occur for some reason, but there is only circumstantial evidence to support them. Other explanations require more elaborate schemes attributing motivations and capabilities to anti-regime actors, whether foreign or domestic, that are even harder to substantiate. The available evidence does not support attributing these attacks to any particular group but does appear to show that the regime has been willing to allow them to continue. – Institute for the Study of War

Julien Barnes-Dacey and Ellie Geranmayeh write: Calibrated and targeted pressure in the form of sanctions and political pushback is necessary in response to Iran’s behavior at home and abroad. But the West and Iran are now firmly on a maximum-pressure path that is fueling dangerous escalatory dynamics. It is time to slow the runaway train before it’s too late. – Foreign Policy

Robbie Gramer writes: The U.S. Commerce Department also issued new export control measures last weekend specifically to target Iranian drones used by Russia in Ukraine in a bid to disrupt the flow of foreign products and technology that goes into producing those drones. Lord said the sanctions and export controls may hamper the Russia-Iran military alliance, but they can’t stop it outright. – Foreign Policy 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The Iranian regime is now arguing that its own long list of school poisonings is linked to unsolved cases in Afghanistan and the West Bank. The regime would likely have blamed these cases on Israel and the US had it not been for today’s expediency in which the regime wants the world to believe the poisonings are mass hysteria. […]This shows how the regime is so concerned about poisonings and their after-effects in the West that it is willing to cast a wide net of blame, from claiming mass hysteria to blaming the opposition, to hearkening back to the 1980s, to distract from it. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Ukrainian forces clung to their positions in Bakhmut on Sunday, fiercely resisting a Russian push to encircle the city in the eastern Donetsk region and prolonging a fight that has become a symbol of Ukraine’s battlefield defiance. – Washington Post

Lined up in the dark in civilian vehicles, lights dimmed, a company of soldiers waited silently at the side of a road. Farther behind, a second company was parked, an occasional light inside a car revealing the face of a soldier. Still farther back, a third company was moving into place. – New York Times 

More than 24 hours after a strange incursion near the Russian-Ukrainian border that President Vladimir Putin labeled a “terrorist attack,” there was no new clarity about the incident, in which the authorities said two people were killed. – Washington Post

President Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on Friday showed a united front on the war in Ukraine, vowing to keep Western support intact amid mounting concerns that China could move to supply weapons to Moscow. – New York Times 

The Russian forces were so close that Boghdan, a Ukrainian soldier with the 79th Air Assault Brigade, could see them digging. – New York Times 

Ukrainian forces repelled multiple Russian attacks on Saturday in fighting around the partly encircled city of Bakhmut, which has come down to a yard-by-yard battle for vital roads that supply the city’s defenders. – New York Times 

A year after Russia invaded Ukraine, the war has spurred a global effort to produce more missiles, tanks, artillery shells and other munitions. And few countries have moved as quickly as South Korea to increase output. – New York Times 

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Friday to reaffirm America’s commitment to help hold Russia responsible for war crimes, a Justice Department spokeswoman said. – New York Times 

When the European Union offered Ukraine a path to membership last year, it was in many ways an emotional response to the Russian invasion. Leaders were under pressure to show solidarity with the victims of aggression, even though many opposed the idea. – New York Times 

The United States is set to send more aid to Ukraine, most of it ammunition for equipment such as HIMARS rocket launchers, before an anticipated Russian assault this spring. – New York Times 

Russian shelling destroyed homes and killed one person in northern Ukraine’s Kharkiv province, the region’s governor said Sunday, while fighting raged in the fiercely contested eastern city of Bakhmut. – Associated Press

Instead of doing their usual jobs producing and repairing mining equipment, some workers are busy building metal bunkers for front-line troops. Ukrainian mining and metals company Metinvest launched the project, and the plant workers say they are happy contributing to the resistance to Russia’s invasion. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian troops continue to pursue an attempt to cut off the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut. Kremlin forces are on the offensive along five axes in Ukraine’s east, including near Bakhmut. – Bloomberg 

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant no longer produces electricity and serves solely as a military base for Moscow’s troops, the exiled mayor of the city of Energodar, which houses the facility, told AFP. – Agence France-Presse 

The Kremlin said Friday it would take steps to prevent cross-border incursions after Moscow blamed “Ukrainian nationalists” for killing two civilians in southern Russia the day earlier.- Agence France-Presse

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the onus for ending the war in Ukraine remains on Russian President Vladimir Putin. – Politico 

Last week, President Joe Biden traveled to Kyiv as an act of defiance meant to mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine. This week, back in Washington, grimmer realities are setting in. – Politico 

Ukraine has appealed to the EU to send Kyiv 250,000 artillery shells a month to ease a critical shortage that it warns is limiting its progress on the battlefield. – Financial Times

As if to underscore the futility of any hope for swift resolution, two of the people who have the most to say to each other — Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and Secretary Blinken — spoke for less than 10 minutes on the sidelines of the G20 parley at New Delhi this week. In any case, this phase of the war is all about actions, not words. – New York Sun 

The Pentagon on Tuesday pushed back on the idea that the U.S. military is helping Ukraine strike within Russia’s borders, following several days of Kremlin claims that Ukrainian drones and “saboteurs” had crossed borders to attack the country. – Military Times 

Henry Olsen writes: America’s security is inextricably linked to a strong and vibrant NATO, but a strong Germany is necessary to make that viable. Biden needs to impress that fact upon Scholz and then act accordingly. – Washington Post

Joshua Rubenstein writes: Russia with Ukraine is an empire. Russia without Ukraine is a country. Stalin has long been dead, but the imperial dreams of the Bolsheviks who reconstituted the Russian Empire after years of revolution and civil war haven’t been disavowed. His shadow still haunts the land he left behind. – Wall Street Journal

Bill Schneider writes: The war in Ukraine is a steel cage death match for Putin and Biden. It’s hard to see how Putin could stay in office if Russia is driven out of Ukraine (though it’s unclear who would succeed him). It’s also hard to see how Joe Biden could be re-elected if Ukraine falls to the Russians. If the war is fought to a stalemate, it’s not clear how either of them could survive politically without being able to claim “victory.” – The Hill

David Harsanyi writes: Regardless, if Ukraine’s cause is righteous, and our opaque but open-ended commitment is necessary to save Western democracy, there should be no reason to chill debate. – New York Sun  

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write: Nevertheless, in the first year of war, Putin’s partial escalation strategy has generally served him well. It has allowed him to maintain political stability through a combination of intimidation and indifference. […]The question is, How long can this not-quite-total war be sustained? The longer the war goes on, the more Putin will have to take some of the more drastic steps he has threatened. And at some point, he will run out of room to play with. – Foreign Affairs 


After a violent uprising by Palestinians against Israel subsided nearly two decades ago, Abu Abdallah, then a leader of a Palestinian militia, stashed away his assault rifle and later became a civil servant in the West Bank city of Nablus. – New York Times 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said the remarks by a key Cabinet ally calling for a Palestinian town to be erased were inappropriate, after the United States demanded that he reject the statement. – Associated Press

Israeli troops fired stun grenades and tear gas on Friday to block busloads of Israeli left-wing activists from staging a solidarity rally in a Palestinian town that was set ablaze by radical Jewish settlers earlier this week, protesters said. – Associated Press

Tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious plan to overhaul the country’s legal system, as the government pressed on with the proposed changes despite the mass opposition. – Associated Press  

Six European countries on Saturday condemned recent Palestinian militant attacks that killed Israeli citizens in the occupied West Bank and called on Israel to halt expansion of settlements there. – Reuters

Israel hosted the top U.S. military officer, Army General Mark Milley, on Friday for discussions that it said included the need for cooperation on denying Iran nuclear weaponry. – Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Sunday to soften international outcry over a call by a far-right member of his cabinet for a flashpoint Palestinian village to be “erased”, saying those remarks had been “inappropriate”. – Reuters

A group of settlers on Friday afternoon were documented hurling stones at Palestinians and damaging olive on the outskirts of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank, as Israeli soldiers stood by. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on early Sunday welcomed Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s retraction of the “inappropriate” remark that Israel should “wipe out” the Palestinian town of Huwara, clarifying that Jerusalem’s policy is to avoid collective punishment. – Times of Israel 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed International Atomic Energy Association chief Rafael Grossi for comments he made against a possible Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, calling them “unworthy.” – Times of Israel 

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi has expressed his concern to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that recent threats from members of the army’s reserve forces not to report for duty in protest of the government’s plan to radically overhaul the judiciary could expand to the point of harming the military’s operational capabilities, according to leaks from the conversation carried by Hebrew media on Sunday. – Times of Israel 

The Biden administration is concerned that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear sites without notifying Washington ahead of time, according to Ynet’s military analyst, Ron Ben-Yishai. – Arutz Sheva

A delegation of the High Follow‑Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and several Arab Knesset members on Sunday visited the Huwara area, where brothers Hallel and Yagel Yaniv were murdered in a terrorist attack last week, which was followed by riots by extremists in Huwara. – Arutz Sheva  

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Sunday with Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger in Jerusalem. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed deepening the cooperation between Israel and Slovakia, especially in technology, innovation and tourism, as well as regional issues. – Arutz Sheva 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has ordered Israel Police to carry out demolitions of illegal housing units in east Jerusalem throughout the month of Ramadan, despite a decision made years ago to end this practice, Kan News reported on Monday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Monday that among the anti-government protesters there are those who plan to assassinate him or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on political grounds. – Jerusalem Post  

Palestinian Authority security forces are working to prevent a new armed group from operating in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday. – Jerusalem Post 

Gil Troy writes: Pogroms came from the center of Eastern European society, while the anti-Palestinian violence came from the margins of Israeli society. Meanwhile, anti-Jewish violence comes from the Palestinian mainstream. Palestinian leaders openly call for the destruction of the Jewish state and sponsor “martyr’s funds” to pay the families of those that carry out attacks against Israel. – Wall Street Journal 

Jerold Auerbach writes: Diplomacy, especially with regard to Israel, is a different chapter in the Nides story. He realizes that the United States and Israel are bound together by “a sense of democracy and a sense of  democratic institutions.” That sounds reassuring – until he says that “when we believe that those democratic institutions are under stress and strain, we’re articulating [our concern]. That’s what we are doing now.” He seems to believe that the Biden administration is the appropriate judge of Israel’s behavior. – Algemeiner 

Amir Tibon writes: There are many inspiring and respected Israelis who could be invited as keynote speakers at the upcoming event instead of Smotrich. If the organization doesn’t withdraw Smotrich’s invitation it will signal that in 2023, this is exactly what it stands for. – Haaretz 


Under the previous government, this woman from western Afghanistan could get a divorce by testifying that her first husband was physically abusive, even though he refused to appear before the judge. But under the Taliban’s draconian interpretation of Islamic law, her divorce is invalid and, as a result, so is her second marriage. – Washington Post

Male students trickled back to their classes on March 6 after Afghan universities reopened following a winter break, but women remain barred by Taliban authorities. – Agence France-Presse

The Taliban on March 1 celebrated the third anniversary of the controversial U.S.-Taliban agreement, hailing it as a “great victory” and the “last nail in the coffin” of the “imperial invader.” –  Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty  


When a catastrophic earthquake struck Syria last month, President Bashar al-Assad did not declare a state of emergency nor a day of mourning for the victims. It was days before he visited the stricken areas. – New York Times 

The Pentagon’s top officer made an unannounced visit to the U.S. mission in northeastern Syria on Saturday in a show of confidence for American operations against Islamic State. – Wall Street Journal

The World Bank said Friday that Syria sustained an estimated $5.1 billion in damages in last month’s massive earthquake that struck southeast Turkey and northern parts of the war-torn country. – Associated Press 


Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Sunday that Ankara is working hard to extend a U.N.-backed initiative that has enabled Ukraine to export grain from ports blockaded by Russia following its invasion. – Reuters

The five remaining leaders of Turkey’s opposition alliance renewed their commitment to its original principles on Saturday after one of the group’s main members quit in disagreement over the candidate for presidential elections in May. – Reuters

Giorgio Cafiero and Emily Przyborowski write: In a world continuing to move toward multipolarity, Turkey’s foreign policy becomes more independent, resulting in Washington having less sway over Ankara compared to previous points in history. In upcoming months, it will be important to monitor any potential shifts in Turkey’s foreign policy vis-à-vis its claims to parts of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. If there are none, the root causes of much of the tension between Athens and Ankara will not be resolved, notwithstanding Greece’s solidarity with Turkey’s earthquake victims, and it will be more difficult for Biden’s administration to successfully bring Greece and Turkey closer together as NATO allies. – The National Interest


With the Lebanese economy in shambles and its currency in free fall, Bazazo spends much of his time trying to keep up with a fluctuating exchange rate. Businesses like his are increasingly leaning on one of the world’s most reliable assets — the U.S. dollar — as a way to cope with the worst financial crisis in its modern history. – Associated Press

Lebanese media reported about an altercation between Lebanese military troops and the IDF on the Israel-Lebanon border, which included a heated exchange between the commanding officers of both sides. – Ynet 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: That means current potential shifts in Lebanon could lead to an agreement on a new president, but it could also lead to a crisis. Lebanon is also at a juncture in transition between its intelligence chiefs; Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim is leaving office and it is unclear who will be appointed in his place. Arab News said that “Lebanon is due to appoint a new acting head of its intelligence agency after the highest-ranking candidate was declared fit to take over from its retiring current chief. – Jerusalem Post 

Gulf States

When Abu Dhabi hosted a summit of Middle East leaders at a seaside palace in January, there was a glaring absence: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. A month before, the United Arab Emirates’ top leaders skipped a high-profile China-Arab summit in Riyadh. – Wall Street Journal

When the United States and Iraq recently put tough new international banking rules into effect, the intent was to stem the illicit flow of dollars to criminal actors and money launderers, including those helping groups in Iran and Syria. – New York Times 

For most travellers, googling “Iraq” would be the beginning and end of any journey to this country — a “red list” destination (except for an orange swath denoting Kurdistan in the north-east), according to official UK travel advisories. For Americans, Iraq is red all over. I’ve come for several reasons. – Financial Times 

Middle East & North Africa

Tunisian authorities have arrested hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants after President Kais Saied denounced immigration last month and said there was a “criminal plot” to change Tunisia’s demographic makeup. – Wall Street Journal

Thousands of people marched through Tunisia’s capital Saturday, decrying an expanding crackdown on opposition voices and a proposed lifting of subsidies for food and other goods. – Associated Press

Egypt on Sunday sentenced 14 people, including rights activists, to prison terms ranging between five and 15 years on terrorism-related charges in a trial deplored by rights groups as unfair. – Associated Press

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi held talks Sunday with Iraq’s prime minister in Cairo as the two countries seek to deepen ties and reinforce a regional alliance with Jordan. – Associated Press

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in Jordan to begin a three-country Mideast visit, is aiming to reassure key allies of American commitment to the region despite Washington’s recent focus on Russia and China, officials said, but plans frank messages for leaders of Israel and Egypt. – Reuters

Jordan’s King Abdullah told U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday a surge in West Bank violence threatened regional stability and asked for assistance to fight a growing drug war along its borders with Syria blamed on Iranian-backed militias, Jordanian officials said. – Reuters

Sarah Cahn and Erik Yavorsky write: Ultimately, while Middle East states have been important sources of aid following regional disasters, with the earthquake serving as an important case, politics does appear to play a role in determining the amount and the target of humanitarian assistance. The flow of aid reflects various shades of friendship, warming, and conflict, and also casts light on emerging changes in interstate dynamics. – Washington Institute

Adnan Nasser writes: If Assad is prepared to play ball with Gulf states, make some token political concession or two that could allow for the removal of sanctions altogether, and have a presidential friend in Beirut, he might find himself once again having a powerful hand in Lebanon’s affairs. – The National Interest

Korean Peninsula

A group of residents of Japan who say they suffered decades of human rights abuses in North Korea after being lured there by false promises of a “Paradise on Earth” asked a Japanese appeals court on Friday to rule that the North should pay them compensation. – Associated Press

The United States and South Korea will conduct more than 10 days of large-scale military exercises in March, including amphibious landings, officials from the two countries said on Friday. – Reuters

North Korea on Saturday blamed the United States for what it said was the collapse of international arms control systems and said Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons were a just response to ensure the balance of power in the region. – Reuters

North Korean state media weighed in on Saturday on allegations that Western nations were involved in blasts that damaged Russia’s undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines last year, in the latest move by Pyongyang to express support for Moscow. – Reuters

North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday called on the United Nations to demand an immediate halt to combined military drills by the United States and South Korea, saying they were raising tensions that threaten to spiral out of control. – Reuters

Melanie Kirkpatrick writes: The goal of U.S. policy on North Korea should be complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. The National Institute for Public Policy paper offers a path for getting there. Refinements are needed, but unlike the failed diplomacy of the past three decades, it doesn’t meet anyone’s definition of insanity. – Wall Street Journal


The new top lieutenants of Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to take up senior government positions at the annual session of China’s legislature this week, having risen to the Communist Party’s uppermost ranks last fall. The new leadership lineup, packed with men loyal to Mr. Xi, faces daunting challenges: an economy emerging from years of zero-Covid restrictions, increased hostility from the outside world and, at home, a battered public trust in the party’s ability to manage the country.  – Wall Street Journal

A number of prominent Chinese internet executives have been left out of the country’s top political meetings in Beijing this week, giving way to experts in artificial intelligence and semiconductors as Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s priorities shift amid rising technology competition with the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

China plans to boost its military spending by 7.2% this year, the government said Sunday, accelerating its military buildup as tensions rise with the U.S. and its allies over Taiwan. – Wall Street Journal

When the top diplomats of four major Asia-Pacific nations met here in the Indian capital on Friday to discuss issues in the region, one had a direct message for the behemoth whose shadow loomed over the talk. – New York Times 

BGI Group, one of the world’s biggest genetics analysis companies, said Sunday it never would be involved in human rights abuses after the U.S. government said there was a danger some of its units might contribute to Chinese surveillance. – Associated Press

The Biden administration is close to tightening rules on some overseas investments by U.S. companies in an effort to limit China’s ability to acquire technologies that could improve its military prowess, according to a U.S. official familiar with the deliberations. – Associated Press

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday said China had declared it won’t supply Russia with weapons for its war against Ukraine, suggesting that Berlin has received bilateral assurances from Beijing on the issue. – Politico 

Beijing is pressing Hong Kong’s elite to give up their western passports in order to be selected for the Chinese parliament as it tries to stamp out foreign influence and tighten control of the territory. – Financial Times 

China largely kept its language regarding Taiwan the same in an annual report to the nation’s legislature, suggesting that President Xi Jinping is maintaining its policy toward the self-ruled island even as global tensions increase. – Bloomberg 

Preventing a Chinese invasion of Taiwan at any point this decade will be an “enormous challenge,” according to a top Department of Defense official. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Notably, Chinese-American communities here and nationally are getting more politically engaged thanks to a host of domestic issues. Let’s hope that awakening builds more confidence to call out this foreign threat, as well — and to demand local officials act against it. – New York Post 

Yuan Yang writes: We should also not underestimate the importance of symbolic action. Uyghurs who live outside China now number over 1mn people. Like the Tibetan and Hong Kong diasporas, many have left their homeland as political refugees. Governments now contemplating how to engage with Xinjiang owe it to these diasporas to show solidarity — regardless of Beijing’s response. – Financial Times

Cristina Criddle, Hannah Murphy, and Demetri Sevastopulo write: The extraordinary popularity of the app among young people could act as a kind of shield from lawmakers eager to ban it completely. […]With their bill granting Biden the right to do that, House Republicans are eager to ensure the nuclear option remains on the table. They will be hoping Shou gives them fresh ammunition in his congressional appearance later this month. – Financial Times

South Asia

A boisterous international audience of academics, diplomats and business executives both cheered and groaned as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov presented Moscow’s view of the war in Ukraine, reflecting global splits on the crisis. – Washington Post

A suicide bomber rammed a motorcycle into a police truck in southwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing nine policemen, a police spokesman said. – Reuters

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd on Friday approved a rollover of a $1.3 billion loan for cash-strapped Pakistan, which will help shore up its depleting foreign exchange reserves, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said. – Reuters 

A Pakistani national soccer team player who died in a migrant shipwreck off Italy’s southern coast embarked on the voyage to find medical treatment for her disabled 3-year-old son, her sister and a friend said Saturday. – Associated Press 

Authorities in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore have refused permission for a rally on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day, which regularly meets a fierce backlash in the conservative, patriarchal country. – Agence France-Presse 

Pakistan authorities moved to arrest opposition leader Imran Khan for not showing up to a court hearing and banned him from television, raising political tensions as the country struggles to shore up its finances and avoid default. – Bloomberg 

Husain Haqqani writes: It is time that Pakistan’s leaders recognize that violent, radical Islamists are not just disgruntled individuals who can be placated with a negotiated settlement. They hold strong beliefs and a sense of destiny, and believe in using violence to shape the world according to their outlook. Before Pakistan’s militants take advantage of ongoing political chaos and economic adversity to orchestrate a full-blown insurgency, leaders in Islamabad must end years of uncertainty about their policy on terrorism. And before they can do that, the country needs a national consensus with the full support of its generals. Unfortunately, there is currently no sign that the country is moving in that direction. – Foreign Policy

Ian Bertram writes: China’s expansionism can and must be challenged. India is the perfect place to firmly check PRC designs by aggressively defending their border. The risks of escalation to a nuclear level are slim, and the Chinese stand to lose more economically and in terms of world opinion from a wider conventional conflict than India. As long as India can maintain the position of the offended party as they have done in the past, it can serve as the world’s best place to hold strong against Chinese expansionism. – The National Interest


Armed men in military gear attacked a provincial governor in the central Philippines on Saturday, killing him and several other people, according to the police. Hours later, three were arrested in connection with the case. – New York Times 

A South Korean fund will compensate Koreans forced to work in Japan during World War II, the South Korean government said Monday, part of an arrangement with the Japanese government to resolve differences between the two U.S. allies. – Wall Street Journal

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan on Sunday as well as resolute steps to oppose Taiwan independence, with Taipei responding that Beijing should respect the Taiwanese people’s commitment to democracy and freedom. – Reuters

Taiwan Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng warned on Monday the island has to be on alert this year for Chinese military’s “sudden entry” into areas close to its territory amid the rising military tensions across the sensitive Taiwan Strait. – Reuters

A shootout between Azerbaijani soldiers and police of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist ethnic Armenian region, killed at least three people Sunday, according to Armenia’s Interior Ministry. – Associated Press

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said growing defense spending, including by China and across Asia, is evidence a peace dividend after World War II that fueled global economic growth is largely over. – Bloomberg 

Australia and the UK are urging the Biden administration to relax restrictions on the sharing of technology and information that they say risk undercutting the trilateral Aukus security pact. – Financial Times 

As a sign of growing pressure to ease US arms export restrictions ahead of the looming AUKUS sub announcement, the Australian defense minister this week pointed to the elephant in the room: export restrictions known as ITAR. – Breaking Defense 

Leo Lewis writes: The idea that the politics of deglobalisation will continue to favour the robots has also produced some eye-catching forecasts. A recent report by Grand View Research found that the global market for machine vision — the cameras, sensors and readers that empower robots and other automation technology — reached $16.9bn last year. – Financial Times 

Kamran Bokhari writes: Russia and China both have the geographic advantage over the United States in Central Asia — but Washington has a strategic edge over both in that it can definitely help build up capacity and resilience of states like Uzbekistan so they can resist pressures from Beijing and Moscow. This can be done by taking steps to support and guide the reform process that Tashkent has embarked upon. Measures that can strengthen the rule of law and eradicate corruption are not just critical but also essential pre-requisites for economic development, especially for post-Soviet states in Eurasia. – The Hill


King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, will travel to France and Germany this month, making their first state visits since Charles ascended to the throne in September, Buckingham Palace said on Friday. – New York Times 

The two bullets, believed to have been fired by a hooded figure who briefly appeared on the security cameras in the dead of night, gouged the reinforced glass of a door at the Old Synagogue in this northwestern German city. A third bullet hit the door’s metal frame. – Washington Post

Serbia on Friday denied it has exported arms to Ukraine after Moscow demanded to know if its Balkan ally delivered thousands of rockets for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. – Associated Press

Thousands of Ukrainians who fled to Spain after Russia invaded their country last year are still waiting for promised payments of 400 euros ($425) a month in the Spanish regions where most of the refugees live. – Associated Press

German investigators said Friday that they seized weapons, including three hand grenades and a crossbow, from the home of a suspected anti-government extremist that was searched as part of a hate speech probe. – Associated Press

One person was killed and at least five others were injured on Friday when a hand grenade exploded at the entrance of a courthouse in Montenegro’s capital, police said. – Associated Press

Germany wants to buy mothballed Leopard 2 battle tanks from Switzerland to replace tanks that Berlin and its Western allies are sending to Ukraine, the Swiss government said Friday. – Associated Press       

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there would be “consequences” if China sent weapons to Russia for Moscow’s war in Ukraine, but he’s fairly optimistic that Beijing will refrain from doing so. – Associated Press

Less than a week after a deadly migrant shipwreck off Italy, five European Union countries on the Mediterranean Sea pushed back Saturday against their northern neighbors for not accepting asylum-seekers under a voluntary relocation initiative. – Associated Press 

Hungarian President Katalin Novak said on Friday that no decision had yet been made on whether Budapest would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem next month despite an Israeli newspaper report that it would do so next month. – Reuters 

As NATO allies make a show of unity in support of Ukraine, a rift between Germany and Poland risks undermining a joint effort to supply Kyiv’s forces. – Bloomberg

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is favored to secure an election victory Sunday, though the vocal Vladimir Putin critic may struggle to form a new government as a far-right party taps discontent. – Bloomberg 

The European Union and Ukraine have set up a team tasked with investigating and prosecuting Russian war crimes. – New York Post   

Rana Foroohar writes: America leads on innovation, and Europe on regulation, or so the conventional wisdom goes. But recently, the US seems to have taken the lead in the latter, particularly in politically powerful industries like technology, pharma and finance. – Financial Times


It will begin broadcasting this month on Somali television and is the first drama series to be shot in the ravaged city since the civil war erupted in 1991. The series is part of a wider flowering of the city’s arts, in defiance of frequent attacks by Islamist militants. – Washington Post

Bola Tinubu, the veteran political fixer who won Nigeria’s presidency after campaigning with the catchphrase “It’s my turn,” will take the reins of Africa’s largest economy under a cloud of accusations that he doesn’t have the mandate he claims. – Wall Street Journal

The director of a hospital in a disputed city in the Somaliland region says at least 145 people have been killed in more than two months of fighting between anti-government fighters and Somaliland security forces after local elders declared their intention to reunite with Somalia. – Associated Press

The United States is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that could lead to the capture of Congo’s top jihadi, who leads an affiliate of the Islamic State group. – Associated Press

Emmanuel Macron shared his vision of a renewed partnership with Africa in which it stands equal with France, as he concluded a tour where he has sought to dispel France’s image as an arrogant former colonial power whilst bidding for future influence. – Reuters

Rwandan soldiers shot dead a Congolese soldier who crossed the border and shot at security forces on Friday, triggering a brief exchange of fire between the two sides, Rwanda’s defence ministry said. – Reuters

Brussels said Saturday it was setting up a “humanitarian air bridge” to deliver aid to conflict-hit eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as the visiting French president said all sides had given support to a ceasefire next week. – Agence France-Presse 

Violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that’s displaced nearly 7 million people could delay elections scheduled for December, President Felix Tshisekedi told French President Emmanuel Macron. – Bloomberg 

Viktor Marsai writes: If the United States wants to avoid the possibility of a new terrorist attack on its soil, its leaders cannot neglect what’s brewing in Africa—or on its southern border, for that matter. The days of extended military engagements like the war in Afghanistan may have passed, but keeping the pressure on violent extremist organizations and conducting small-scale commando raids, similar to the killing of Sudani, must continue. – The National Interest

The Americas

Increasingly sophisticated weapons are being trafficked into Haiti mainly from the United States and especially from Florida amid worsening lawlessness in the impoverished Caribbean nation, according to a U.N. report released Friday. – Associated Press

Cuba on Thursday blasted the United States for taking too long to accept evidence that the ailment “Havana Syndrome” was not likely caused by a foreign enemy, saying Washington ignored the science as a pretext for cutting off relations with the Communist-run island. – Reuters

Former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro won multiple standing ovations Saturday from US conservatives as he offered a glowing endorsement of his ally Donald Trump, sowed doubt over his own election defeat and attacked Covid vaccine mandates. – Agence France-Presse

The FBI is investigating a kidnapping of four US citizens who were last seen in Mexico, the US Embassy in Mexico City said Sunday. – New York Post 

Michael Stott and Vanessa Silva write: Washington and Brussels hope that the carrots of more sanctions relief and greater international legitimacy will encourage Maduro into conceding enough reform to give the opposition a shot at winning next year’s presidential election. Few are optimistic this will succeed, but even fewer see an alternative. – Financial Times 

Latin America

Russian oil firm Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin met with Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel late on Saturday, the island’s leader said, amid an acute fuel shortage that has service stations temporarily shuttered and hours-long gasoline queues. – Reuters

Few Venezuelans have not had their lives touched by migration over the last decade, when more than 7 million people left the country amid a political, economic and humanitarian crisis that has lasted the entirety of President Nicolás Maduro’s government. – Associated Press 

A U.N. human rights groups said Thursday the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega executed at least 40 people and ordered hospitals not to treat demonstrators wounded in antigovernment protests. – Associated Press 

Arturo McFields writes: Although AMLO’s Plan B has won the first battle in Mexico’s Senate, the country’s Supreme Court will have the last word. At this moment, one thing is clear: Mexico does not want to have Cuban-style elections, much less a dictatorship like Nicaragua’s. That is why they have taken to the streets and will continue to do so. – The Hill

North America

The Biden administration’s nominee to be the next president of the World Bank, the international development and climate institution, is embarking on a monthlong sprint around the globe to solidify support for his candidacy. – New York Times 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have hoped that this week’s independent review of China’s meddling in the last two Canadian federal elections would tamp down debate on the subject in Parliament. Instead, the report seemed to revitalize the opposition parties. – New York Times 

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly told her Chinese counterpart that foreign interference will not be tolerated in Canada’s internal affairs, amid calls for a broad public inquiry into China’s alleged meddling in the past two elections. – Reuters


A proposed European Union cloud security label that could exclude Amazon (AMZN.O), Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google, Microsoft (MSFT.O) and other non-EU cloud services providers from the bloc is discriminatory and could lead to retaliatory measures, a study commissioned by a tech lobbying group said. – Reuters 

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a memorandum on Friday requiring states to analyze cyber defenses at public water systems during periodic audits. – Bloomberg 

US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner plans to introduce a bill this week to allow the US to systematically ban Chinese technology, including services like TikTok, he told Fox News on Sunday. – Bloomberg 


The Space Force is planning later this year to request bids from providers of wireless phones enabled to connect with satellite networks, according to Clare Grason, director of the Commercial Space Communications Office (CSCO). – Breaking Defense 

After being delayed for over a year, the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy was released finally on Feb. 23. Signed by President Joe Biden as National Security Memorandum 18, the policy explains the administration’s rationale for selling arms abroad and provides insight into how it will evaluate proposed defense exports — sales that totaled over $161 billion under Biden in fiscal 2021. – Breaking Defense 

On Monday, government experts from around the globe will once again gather in Geneva to debate the ethics and legality of autonomous weapons. – Breaking Defense 

US Space Command intends this spring to stand up a new, unified Commercial Integration Office to coordinate its efforts to on-board commercial capabilities, according to a recent SPACECOM planning document. – Breaking Defense