Fdd's overnight brief

May 11, 2021

In The News


A U.S. Coast Guard ship accompanying a Navy guided-missile submarine fired more than a dozen warning shots at a swarm of Iranian fast boats during a tense encounter in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, a Pentagon spokesman said, in at least the third such incident in five weeks. – Wall Street Journal

Iran opened registration Tuesday for potential candidates in the country’s June presidential election, kicking off the race as uncertainty looms over Tehran’s tattered nuclear deal with world powers and tensions remain high with the West. – Associated Press

Negotiations in Vienna between world powers and Iran are moving into a crucial stage and the next few weeks will be critical to saving their 2015 nuclear deal, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday. – Reuters

Amid clashes between terrorists in the Gaza Strip and the IDF, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiee stated that Iran “cannot remain silent,” calling for regional cooperation to “prevent terrorism.” – Jerusalem Post

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is urging the Iranian parliament to reject a bill that it says would “help further erode Iran’s increasingly vulnerable press freedom” ahead of next month’s presidential election. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday called on Palestinian Arabs to unite in order to attack Israel. – Arutz Sheva

Micah Halpern writes: Why then is it important for us to monitor this election? Because we need to make ourselves aware of trends and movement within Iran. Because if there is ever a chance of change in Iran, it will be a grassroots movement; it will have to come from the masses. And one of the only ways the masses in Iran have to show their true feeling is by ignoring the list that is handed to them and by refusing to vote. It’s not the president who will change the course of history in Iran, it is the people. – Jerusalem Post


Thousands of people gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Ankara and its consulate in Istanbul to protest at Israeli actions against Palestinians on Monday while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Middle East leaders about the rising violence. – Reuters

Turkey’s foreign minister arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday for talks aimed at overcoming a rift over the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul that led to bitter recriminations and a Saudi boycott of Turkish goods. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday called Israel a cruel “terrorist” state, as Turkish media called to “free al-Aqsa” in Jerusalem, just like he reconsecrated the historic Church of Hagia Sophia as a mosque last year. – Jerusalem Post


Israeli airstrikes killed nine children and 15 others in Gaza on Monday, Palestinian officials said, after some of the worst clashes in Jerusalem in recent years rapidly escalated into an exchange of rockets and bombs between the militant group Hamas and the Israeli military. – Washington Post

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the barrage of rocket attacks fired into Israel in recent hours, said Ned Price, the State Department Spokesperson. “This is an unacceptable escalation,” he said. – Reuters

Some 31 people were injured on Tuesday morning after rockets, fired from the Gaza Strip, slammed into two homes in Ashkelon. Four of the injured were members of the same family. – Jerusalem Post

Palestinians wounded in clashes with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa mosque compound filled the halls of an east Jerusalem hospital Monday, several having lost eyes after being hit by rubber bullets. – Agence France-Presse

Western powers have “inflamed the tensions” in Jerusalem through errant public statements on the eruption of violence in the ancient city, according to the top Israeli diplomat in the United States. – Washington Examiner

United Nations Security Council members on Monday called for a restoration of calm as Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated in Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas and the IDF expressed opposition to efforts by Egypt to mediate a ceasefire on Monday night and Tuesday, with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip firing over 250 rockets and injuring seven Israelis and the IDF carrying out strikes on Gaza in response, killing 24 people. – Jerusalem Post

The unrest in Jerusalem has prompted Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn (R) to strike at the heart of anti-Israel terrorist funding. – Fox News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Hamas on Monday following dozens of rocket attacks into Israel that set off air raids as far away as Jerusalem as violence continues to escalate in and around the holy city. – The Hill

If the United States returns its consulate in Jerusalem to represent America to the Palestinian Authority, Israel should expel all US diplomats working there, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard said at the Merkaz Harav yeshiva’s Jerusalem Day celebration on Monday night. – Jerusalem Post

Ra’am (United Arab List) leader Mansour Abbas suspended negotiations over his party joining a new governing coalition on Monday due to the deteriorating security situation, putting the formation of a government in jeopardy. – Jerusalem Post

President Joe Biden and his aides have signaled that they believe stepping back from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to focus on more direct threats to America is in the U.S. national interest. But, as an outcry in Congress and beyond over an escalating, bloody crisis in Jerusalem shows, walking away may not be in Biden’s political interest. – Politico

Leading American Jewish groups have strongly denounced renewed Palestinian incitement and violence against Israel, amid clashes in eastern Jerusalem between Palestinians and Israeli forces. – Algemeiner

Israel’s Ambassador to the US criticized Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Monday, saying that her tweets on the ongoing Palestinian violence against Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount are “stoking tensions.” – Algemeiner

Hesitation from the US mission to the United Nations prevented the release of a joint statement by the Security Council’s members on the ongoing escalations in Jerusalem, after the top UN body held an emergency meeting on the subject earlier Monday, a diplomat involved told The Times of Israel. – Associated Press

The State Security Cabinet gave the go-ahead to extensive airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in case Palestinian militants renew rocket fire into Israel, but no ground incursion is expected. – Ynet

Warren Goldstein writes: Unjustly applying the apartheid canard to the Jewish state falls squarely within the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes “claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor.” There can be no greater desecration of the memory of the victims of apartheid than ripping the word out of South African soil, detaching it from its original meaning, and weaponizing it in the cause of another form of bigotry. – Wall Street Journal

Avi Benlolo writes: In recent days, Canada has taken the moral high road by declaring it would boycott the anti-Israel Durban IV conference, joining America and Australia. This is an important and ethical stand against antisemitism and unfair bullying of Israel. Similarly, the world community must pressure the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to immediately cease and desist all incitement and violence against Israel, and help calm the situation. – Algemeiner


Lockheed Martin said Monday that it was withdrawing its maintenance teams for Iraq’s F-16 fighter jets for security reasons, as the Iraqi government struggles to end rocket attacks by militias suspected of being backed by Iran. – New York Times

Iran’s foreign ministry said Monday it “strongly condemns” Iraq’s raid on Tehran’s consulate in Karbala over the killing of a prominent activist. Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh Monday told reporters that Iran late Sunday handed over a “letter of protest” to the Iraqi embassy in Tehran and urged the neighboring Arab nations to pursue the case under international conventions. – Associated Press

The nightmare began for Sherwan Sherwani when six police cars pulled up outside his family home on the outskirts of Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. At least 10 officers stormed the house and chased the 38-year-old freelance journalist upstairs, eventually pinning him down with a gun to his head. The arrested man was later accused by the region’s prime minister of espionage. – Financial Times

Arabian Peninsula

The U.S. Navy has shared photographs of an illicit arms shipment that it said it found aboard an intercepted ship in the Arabian Sea. The images, taken Saturday, showed thousands of weapons laid out across the rear deck of the USS Monterey, part of the Navy’s 5th Fleet, which is headquartered in Bahrain. – Washington Post

Bobby Ghosh writes: Iran’s cooperation is imperative for two of Biden’s key objectives in the Middle East — the resumption of nuclear diplomacy and the end of the war in Yemen — and the Iranians know it. Since there’s no prospect of American military strikes against the Houthis, the U.S. president has effectively painted himself into a corner. And he has put regional allies in jeopardy. The Saudis, in particular, have been forced into a more conciliatory posture with Iran. This greatly diminishes the prospect of a better nuclear deal with Iran, or of peace in Yemen. – Bloomberg

Moran Zaga writes: The Emirati leadership’s key message is that its decision to forge ties with Israel was designed to benefit peace, but not at the expense of the Palestinian issue. At a UN Security Council debate, the UAE urged all sides to harness the momentum created by the peace agreement with Israel for renewed negotiations with the Palestinians. With this message, the UAE is outlining its role within the new paradigm of Israeli-Arab relations and the new rules of the game it has defined. – Jerusalem Post

Simon Henderson writes: For their part, U.S. officials are anxious to preserve the longstanding bilateral relationship, most obviously the base and headquarters that Bahrain provides for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), and the associated 10,000 resident personnel. […]Meanwhile, the island’s budding normalization with Israel is fraught with potential sensitivities. Manama has found a way to manage these challenges successfully in recent years, but the careful balancing act may need to continue indefinitely. – Washington Institute

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s civil defense said on Twitter early on Tuesday that a Houthi projectile had fallen in a border village in Jazan in the south of the kingdom, resulting in some damage to a house and cars but causing no injuries. – Reuters

Qatar’s ruling emir visited Saudi Arabia on Monday for the first time since signing a declaration with the kingdom and other Arab Gulf states to ease a years-long rift and end an embargo that had frayed ties among important U.S. allies and security partners. – Associated Press

Iran has for the first time confirmed that it is holding talks with its bitter regional rival Saudi Arabia, saying that de-escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf is in the interest of both nations and the region. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


The Biden administration has named a new envoy for Libya ahead of the country’s planned elections later this year, signaling an intent to elevate American efforts to end foreign military involvement there and conclude a long period of post-revolution turmoil. – Washington Post

Italy’s government is set to ask the European Union to pay Libya to stop migrant boats leaving its coast, newspaper la Repubblica reported on Tuesday. – Reuters

A boat carrying migrants capsized off Libya on Monday, leaving at least two dozen presumed dead, the U.N. refugee agency said. It was the latest disaster in the Mediterranean Sea involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Several thousand Jordanians protested near Israel’s embassy in Amman on Monday, calling on their government to scrap its peace deal with Israel in the face of serious Israeli-Palestinian clashes around Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque. – Reuters

One Turkish soldier was killed and four were wounded in the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib on Monday in a rocket attack on a supply convoy, Turkey’s Defence Ministry said. – Reuters

Despite occasional political frictions, military relations between the United States and Egypt remain strong, as CENTCOM signaled when it signed an MOU with the Egyptian Armed Forces on logistics and confirmed its participation in the Bright Star  exercise in Egypt this year. – Breaking Defense

Lahav Harkov writes: Still, when it comes to domestic politics, the rioting in Jerusalem and the rockets from Gaza only serve to highlight the shaky grounds on which the alternative, Netanyahu-free government would be built. The realities of the Middle East may make the nascent “change coalition” stumble before it even had a chance to stand. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s leader said Monday he’ll use his upcoming summit with President Joe Biden to push to restart diplomacy with North Korea, saying that the U.S. has opted for a diplomatic, phased approach to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. – Associated Press

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi ended his diplomatic trip to South Korea overnight Monday, amid rocket fire and other violence from Palestinians in Gaza and Jerusalem. – Jerusalem Post

Gordon G. Chang writes: Sanctioning a large Chinese bank would take political will that no American president has demonstrated. And it would take a recognition that China is not the solution to North Korea. It is the problem. – Newsweek


Across much of China, the authorities are encouraging women to have more children, as they try to stave off a demographic crisis from a declining birthrate. But in the Xinjiang region, China is forcing them to have fewer, tightening its grip on Muslim ethnic minorities and trying to orchestrate a demographic shift that will diminish their population growth. – New York Times

China’s ruling Communist Party has opened a new front in its long, ambitious war to shape global public opinion: Western social media. – Associated Press

Taiwan accused China on Tuesday of “maliciously” blocking its access to the World Health Organization (WHO) and putting politics above people’s well-being, after Beijing signalled it would not allow the island to attend a major WHO meeting. – Reuters

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Monday the use of the United Nations as a platform for a virtual event on the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang was an insult to the institution. – Reuters

Denmark’s foreign minister defended democratic values alongside Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday, drawing criticism from China which considers fiercely democratic, self-ruled Taiwan its “sacred” territory. – Reuters

Two amateur computer coders taken by police from their Beijing homes last year were standing trial Tuesday in a case that illustrates the Chinese government’s growing online censorship and heightened sensitivity to any deviation from the official narrative on its COVID-19 response. – Associated Press

Activity by U.S. military ships and surveillance planes directed toward China has increased significantly under the Biden administration, a spokesperson for the Chinese Defense Ministry said April 29. – Associated Press

An American business group warned Tuesday that government-instigated consumer boycotts of foreign shoe, clothing and other brands in China are making companies less willing to invest. – Associated Press

China’s population grew at its slowest rate in decades in the 10 years prior to 2020, according to census data released on Tuesday — a trend that could pose serious issues for the world’s second-largest economy. – CNN

The Biden administration is increasingly looking to avoid accidental escalation with China, a senior defense official said, by cooperating on channels to reduce the risk of planes, ships, and troops butting heads on an increasingly crowded map in the Asia-Pacific. – Foreign Policy

Tensions mounted between the United States and China during former President Donald Trump’s final year in office. As America’s relationship with Beijing eroded, China grew closer with Russia, and President Vladimir Putin hasn’t ruled out a formal alliance between the two nations, raising concerns in the U.S., as the two nations are considered top adversaries. – Newsweek

Gideon Rachman writes: As tensions rise between China, the US and other major powers, it is understandable that these countries will look at the security implications of key technologies. But claims by politicians that industrial policy will also produce better-paying jobs and a more productive economy deserve to be treated with deep scepticism. Sometimes ideas go out of fashion for a reason. – Financial Times

James Steinberg writes: These increasing contacts, both official and unofficial, between the United States and Taiwan, precisely serve this purpose. They are neither a threat nor provocation to China, but rather a means of ensuring that there is sound communication and no misunderstandings between the United States and Taiwan at a time of increasing tensions across the strait. […]The Biden administration is in the midst of its comprehensive China policy review; it remains to be seen how its approach will compare with its predecessors. There are powerful reasons to sustain the One China policy, but equally powerful reasons to adapt it to meet the realities of today. – National Interest


A deadly bombing outside a school in one of Kabul’s Hazara neighborhoods is heightening fears within the minority group that they are increasingly vulnerable as international forces withdraw, leaving the Taliban a more formidable political and military force than ever before. – Washington Post

A Justice Department lawyer said in federal court on Monday that, even as the Pentagon is withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan, the United States has the authority to continue to detain a former Afghan militia member at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, because of his past association with members of Al Qaeda. – New York Times

It’s all U.S. military equipment. The Americans are dismantling their portion of nearby Bagram Air Base, their largest remaining outpost in Afghanistan, and anything that is not being taken home or given to the Afghan military is being destroyed as completely as possible, even small outposts are being dismantled or reduced to rubble. – Associated Press

The Biden administration is under mounting pressure from lawmakers, veterans groups and refugee organizations to organize a large-scale evacuation of endangered Afghan interpreters and others who worked for the U.S. government before U.S. troops withdraw from the country in September. – NBC

A devastating school bombing in Kabul has Chinese officials complaining about President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the latest episode in a tit-for-tat between the two world powers. – Washington Examiner

The Army is deeply unsure how the planned pull-out from Afghanistan — and what comes after — will drive demands on its troops and budget, acting secretary John Whitley said this afternoon. The best case scenario is a smooth withdrawal that frees up forces and funding for great-power competition with China and Russia, but that’s not an outcome Whitley is counting on. – Breaking Defense

Editorial: A U.S. presence can’t thwart every horrific attack, but leaving means accepting there will be more of them. If the Kabul government falls, the U.S. has an obligation to offer asylum to translators and others who risked their lives to work with the allies. President Biden owns the withdrawal—and its consequences. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: It may, alas, be too late for that. But the Biden administration should be prepared to step up its air support for Afghan forces to ensure that any Taliban offensive against Kabul or other major cities can be turned back. It should also accelerate plans to grant visas, and if necessary, provide evacuation to the many Afghans who supported the U.S. mission and now face grave risks. – Washington Post

Neville Teller writes: The Taliban are ruthless extremist terrorists hell-bent on securing control of Afghanistan. To achieve their objective they have consistently demanded the evacuation of all foreign troops. Biden is kindly obliging. No wonder experienced voices in Washington and beyond are raising objections. – Jerusalem Post

South Asia

The Pakistani army chief offered Islamabad’s support for the Afghanistan peace process in a meeting with President Ashraf Ghania in Kabul on Monday amid growing violence as the United States withdraws its troops. – Reuters

Abhijit Singh writes: The best way forward for the United States, then, is to maintain robust security interactions with India (and other Indian Ocean states) but, unless driven by great necessity, limit its activity to formal exercises, information sharing, and capacity-building initiatives. […]In this, the U.S. Navy must leverage the Indian navy through joint operations and surveillance missions in the Indian Ocean. But the U.S.-Indian maritime partnership should aspire to be a reassuring symbol of stability rather than a duopoly of dominance in the Indian Ocean. – War on the Rocks

Austin S. Matthews and Collin Meisel write: By working with partners and a well-diversified mixture of tools for bilateral influence, U.S. policymakers can more effectively and productively manage competition with China in Southeast Asia and beyond. In contrast, a unilateral, military-centric approach would be a mistake — perhaps a fatal mistake, where competition escalates into outright conflict. – War on the Rocks


Three senior journalists working for a news agency in Myanmar who fled after the military government ordered its operations to stop have been arrested by police in northern Thailand, their editor said Monday. – Associated Press

Malaysian authorities have captured eight suspected Abu Sayyaf militants who may have been planning ransom kidnappings in Malaysia, Philippine military officials said Monday, adding that they provided information that helped lead to the arrests. – Associated Press

Joe Biden has chosen Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman and Chicago mayor, to be US ambassador to Japan, according to eight people familiar with personnel discussions inside the White House. – Financial Times

Walter Russell Mead writes: But the big picture is clear. A flourishing Asia is the answer to the U.S.’s China problem. Asia’s peoples and countries want to be independent and rich. Washington’s job is to help that Asian Dream come true. – Wall Street Journal

Jeffrey W. Hornung writes: For Japan’s political decision-making to keep pace with U.S. operational timelines, Japan needs to know now what the United States will likely request in wartime. These discussions could already be occurring, and if so, it is important to get them right. Having expressed support for securing the peace, the United States and Japan need real plans to translate their words into action. As a recent Nikkei article argued, “Japan cannot be neutral in this picture.” – Foreign Policy


President Joe Biden said Russia has “some responsibility” to address a ransomware attack that crippled the Colonial fuel pipeline and that he’ll seek global cooperation to combat similar hacks. – Bloomberg

U.S. President Joe Biden has said that Russia has “some responsibility” to address a ransomware attack that has paralyzed the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, although he refrained from directly blaming the Kremlin. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

China remains the biggest buyer of Russian weapons in Southeast Asia, but Moscow is increasing military ties with other countries. Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar are among those nations that are eyeing closer military cooperation with Russia. This includes the purchase of jets, radars and drones as well as cooperation in bilateral military exercises. – Defense News


A French court on Monday dismissed a landmark case against the U.S. makers of Agent Orange, disappointing victims who had seen the trial as a potential path toward accountability and compensation. – Washington Post

Romania’s president told U.S. counterpart Joe Biden on Monday that more NATO troops are needed on the alliance’s eastern flank given Russia actions that are perceived as threatening by many in the region. – Associated Press

The European Union is readying a fourth round of sanctions against senior Belarus officials in response to last year’s contested presidential election and could target as many as 50 people from June, four diplomats said. – Reuters

The government of French President Emmanuel Macron reacted with fury on Monday after a group of serving French soldiers published an open letter warning that “civil war” was brewing over his “concessions” to Islamism, weeks after a similar message from elements in the military rocked the elite. – Agence France-Presse

Germany’s commissioner on antisemitism Felix Klein called for a ban on the use of the Star of David, commonly known as the Jewish star, at anti-coronavirus-regulation demonstrations, in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper last week. – Jerusalem Post

Joint Declaration of the Heads of State Bucharest 9 Meeting: 1. We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic, met virtually today, in the Bucharest 9 platform for consultation and dialogue. We warmly welcome the participation today of the President of the United States of America, Joseph Biden, and of the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. – Presidency of Romania

Michael Rubin writes: Blinken should also explain before Congress the evidence that supported his decision to waive Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act and allow military aid to Azerbaijan to continue. […]Successful diplomacy deals with the world as it is rather than papers over the problems. As a candidate for president, Joe Biden castigated Trump—with reason—for being too soft on Russia and Turkey. It is ironic, then, that his administration now refuses to hold both countries accountable for their operations in the South Caucasus. – National Interest


Portugal will send a further 60 troops to Mozambique as part of a new cooperation agreement aimed at helping the country tackle an Islamic State-linked insurgency in its north, Portugal’s defence minister Joao Cravinho said on Monday. – Reuters

The United States ambassador to Ethiopia on Monday hosted the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church after he warned of “genocide” in the Tigray region in his first public comments on the war. – Associated Press

Chad’s new leader Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby traveled to Niger on Monday, making his first international trip since the military put him in charge last month following the death of his father. – Associated Press

The Americas

U.S. and Mexican unions on Monday filed the first labor complaint against Mexico under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade pact. – Associated Press

A U.S. Capitol Police watchdog told a congressional committee on Monday that the agency was not equipped to handle the flow of intelligence ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the complex, and he focused his testimony on a suggestion that the force create a dedicated counterintelligence unit. – NPR

Dakota Wood writes: We can bemoan these circumstances, but the fact remains that, in the event of a major conflict, America would pretty much have to rely on its own military sources—and what it has to rely on is a shadow of what it had when last it faced challenges on a global scale. […]But when it comes to the defense of the country, there are no alternatives. The U.S. military either has the size, readiness, and equipment it needs to win in war, or it doesn’t. The consequences, in either case, are extraordinary. – Heritage Foundation


A criminal gang believed to be based in Eastern Europe was involved in the hack that has led to the shutdown of the main pipeline supplying gasoline and diesel fuel to the U.S. East Coast, U.S. officials said Monday, as President Biden and others decried the ransomware attack that was used as a growing global problem. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden said on Monday that the United States would “disrupt and prosecute” a criminal gang of hackers called DarkSide, which the F.B.I. formally blamed for a huge ransomware attack that has disrupted the flow of nearly half of the gasoline and jet fuel supplies to the East Coast. – New York Times

President Biden has nominated Jen Easterly, the head of Morgan Stanley’s global fusion center and a former U.S. government official, to be just the next director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll enter the relatively nascent agency as a series of high-profile breaches are testing the federal government in new ways. – Washington Post

President Joe Biden said Monday that his administration was prepared to take additional steps as the energy sector grapples with a colossal cyberattack targeting one of the largest fuel pipelines in the nation. – CNBC

The ransomware gang accused of crippling the leading U.S. fuel pipeline operator said on Monday that it never meant to create havoc, an unusual statement that experts saw as a sign the cybercriminals’ scheme had gone awry. – Reuters

Senior government officials are privately sounding the alarm over a new cybersecurity executive order President Joe Biden is poised to sign. Biden vowed in April to take steps toward securing U.S. cyber-infrastructure and preventing future security breaches like the 2020 SolarWinds hack. – Washington Examiner

The White House has opened a debate over the merits of companies making ransom payments to cyber attackers after a group of hackers shut down a US oil pipeline over the weekend, highlighting the seriousness of the threat to critical infrastructure. – Financial Times

Tom Rogan writes: This attack threatens the energy supplies depended on by perhaps 100 million Americans. Unless Russia immediately arrests and extradites DarkSide’s team, and not simply some random other hackers, Biden should direct the National Security Agency to retaliate in kind against Russia’s energy infrastructure. It is imperative to U.S. national security that Russia not believe itself capable of using the state versus nonstate “gray zone” to endanger millions of American lives and livelihoods. – Washington Examiner


COVID-19 demonstrated gaps in the U.S. Navy’s maritime bio-preparedness. Through cruise lines’ struggle for survival, the pandemic will continue to offer a unique test bed for tactics, techniques and procedures, or TTP, as well as technologies to mitigate respiratory pathogens — specifically those passive measures most conducive to defense against bioweapons. The Navy should seize this opportunity to develop novel bio-preparedness solutions by partnering with the cruise industry. – Defense News

A group of top U.S. national security agencies warned Monday in a report that adversarial nations’ influence on 5G standards is a major threat to securing advanced communications networks of the future. – C4ISRNET

The Pentagon has awarded Israeli company Xtend a contract to deliver dozens of small unmanned aerial systems for use indoors and in urban environments by special forces in the Navy, Marine Corps and Army. – Defense News

The Pentagon wants industry to bring cheap, ground-launched capabilities as well as hand-held options to destroy small drones to its next demonstration in an effort to acquire new technology to combat the unmanned threat, according to a request for information posted May 7 to the federal contracting website beta.sam.gov. – Defense News

The Navy has spent the last year or so focused on defining what a new era of high-end, modern warfare might look like and therefore what new technologies it will need to defeat advanced threats; though the mine countermeasures community will still face an old threat – sea mines – the community is working hard to advance its technology and its tactics so it can defeat mines faster and more safely to support a future naval battle. – USNI News

Bryan Clark and Timothy Walton write: This return on investment is only one part of the SHIPYARD Act’s benefits. […]Reducing their backlog will be essential to deterring aggression in the future. With trillions of dollars potentially in play to improve America’s competitiveness, not paying for the infrastructure that keeps our Navy and Coast Guard ships running is like buying a new SUV and never changing the oil or tires. If we want to compete with China, protect the global environment, and get the most out of our maritime investments, we need to restore the infrastructure and people our fleet depends on. – The Hill

Long War

The Islamic State group is using stealth to regenerate its forces by developing its military capabilities underground, and France is deploying its warships and aircraft in the region to help troops on the ground root out the threat, a senior French naval officer said Monday. – Associated Press

The head of a U.N. team investigating atrocities in Iraq announced Monday it has found “clear and compelling evidence” that Islamic State extremists committed genocide against the Yazidi minority in 2014 and said the militant group successfully developed chemical weapons and used mustard gas. – Associated Press

Ishtar Al Shami writes: In general, the United States should be quick to recognize the use of ISIS as a scapegoat for Syrian regime activities and should continue to clarify the truth about ISIS activities in Syria so as to weaken the regime’s propaganda efforts. In doing so, the United States could support local Arab tribes, already in desperate need of international attention, and solidify anti-Russian and anti-Iranian sentiment among local populations in the region. – Washington Institute