Fdd's overnight brief

May 12, 2021

In The News


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

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard on Tuesday rejected the U.S. Navy’s claim that fast-approaching Iranian speedboats in the Strait of Hormuz sparked a tense encounter in the already sensitive region. – Associated Press 

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard forces on Tuesday killed seven militants and dismantled their cell in the country’s northwest near the border with Turkey, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported. Two Guard members were also killed in the shootout. – Associated Press

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 

Iran’s top authority issued words of support to the Palestinian fighters engaged in a severe escalation with Israel, and its top diplomat laid out a plan to resolve the decades-long conflict between the two peoples once and for all. – Newsweek 

Iran’s state television reported Wednesday that the country’s former firebrand president will run again for office in upcoming elections in June. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly marched accompanied by supporters to a registration center at the Interior Ministry where he filled out registration forms. – Associated Press

Michael Rubin writes: Every coherent strategy, after all, has a diplomatic, information, military, and economic component. While journalists and government officials focus now on the military aspect of Hamas rockets and Israel’s defense, the reality is the missiles are just the tip of a broader strategy. Iron Dome is an inherently reactive strategy: It activates in response to Hamas (or Hezbollah) aggression. If Israel is going to defend itself against all that Hamas missiles now represent and a growing Iranian drone threat on the horizon, however, it will need to be far more proactive. – 19fortyfive

Brett Sudetic and Omid Shokri Kalehsar write: An unnamed U.S. official then stated on May 6 that a deal could be reached in “the next few weeks,” but that it is “ultimately a matter of a political decision that needs to be made in Iran.” Yet until an agreement is reached, Iran will undoubtedly continue to leverage sanctions evasion tactics and use its neighbors to get its crude to oil-thirsty customers around the world. – Middle East Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Hamas is setting the pace – and that pace may be one that is being watched or even guided from Iran. This may be due to the fact that Hezbollah wants to know what it looks like when Israel is faced with a large amount of rocket fire. They will be paying attention to every instance where rockets made it through. – Jerusalem Post


The Biden administration is bracing for a showdown with Russia over the delivery of United Nations aid to millions of Syrians outside the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a flow that Moscow is poised to block in July. – Wall Street Journal 

Azad Ahmed Ali writes: This change in policy would also help ensure that the current political process in the eastern Euphrates succeeds in resolving the Syrian crisis and providing a platform for implementing a path towards a democratic solution for all of Syria. Without these steps, regional and international interference will continue to enervate the Kurdish and Arab political process, while the risk of a descent into chaos and the return of all forms of extremism remains present. – Washington Institute

Leo Hochberg writes: Facebook has long claimed that it strictly maintains no relationships with governments, in order to maintain the neutrality of its services. And while it is true that Facebook has not to any public knowledge ever made any agreements with figures within or close to the Syrian regime, its existing systems and content moderation policies have given Syria’s government a digital upper hand over opposition groups. – Middle East Institute


Turkey’s top diplomat met with his counterpart in Saudi Arabia Tuesday on his first official trip in years, as the country pushes to repair damaged ties with the kingdom that reached a low point over the 2018 killing in Istanbul of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. – Associated Press

BMC, a joint Turkish-Qatari venture that manufactures armored vehicles and tanks, is in the late stage of negotiations to sell a majority stake of Turkish shares to a Turkish steel producer, sources told Defense News. – Defense News

A rocket attack on a Turkish military supply convoy in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province has killed one soldier and wounded four others, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has accused the HDP of being the PKK’s political wing and said earlier this year there was no room in Turkish politics for a party that did not “wholeheartedly condemn” the militants. The HDP denies links with the PKK, which wants greater political autonomy for Kurds in Turkey. – Financial Times


Fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified on Tuesday, with the Palestinian militant group launching hundreds of rockets from Gaza and Israel responding with airstrikes that have now killed more than 25 people, as the two sides prepared for a wider conflict. – Wall Street Journal 

Netanyahu’s critics say tensions have in part been permitted to escalate because he was distracted by these other affairs. Reports of violence targeting Jewish Israelis and soldiers have dominated Israeli media in recent days. For Palestinians, several recent developments have stoked fears and frustrations over the future of their demands for sovereignty and rights in Jerusalem and an end to the Israeli occupation. – Washington Post

Rockets streamed out of Gaza and Israel pounded the territory with airstrikes early Wednesday as the most severe outbreak of violence since the 2014 war took on many hallmarks of that devastating 50-day conflict, with no endgame in sight. – Associated Press

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is concerned about escalating violence in the West Bank and the possibility that war crimes are being committed there, its prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Editorial: The Biden Administration’s courtship of Iran in renewed nuclear negotiations has been met by Houthi escalation against Saudi Arabia and now Hamas escalation against Israel. The regime may think that the more its proxies clash with U.S. allies, the more eager the U.S. Administration will be to make concessions. – Wall Street Journal 

Jonathan Spyer writes: But the shift of the epicenter of events to Gaza may limit the impact of this effort. Gaza is not a unifying symbol. The West Bank is so far largely quiet. In Jerusalem and among Arab Israelis, the unrest, while fierce, remains geographically limited and involves limited numbers. For as long as these divisions hold, there’s little chance of a third intifada. – Wall Street Journal

Jon B. Alterman writes: Weeks of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem broke into large-scale violence on Friday, May 7. When Israeli police moved on Palestinian Muslims gathered at a site holy to Jews and Muslims alike in the midst of Ramadan, more than 200 Palestinians were injured. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Khaled Abu Toameh writes: Hamas was hoping that a new wave of anti-Israel violence would embarrass Abbas, undermine the PA and drag them into a confrontation with Israel. But Hamas stopped short of directly urging the Palestinians to revolt against Abbas, lest it be accused of fomenting a Palestinian civil war. – Jerusalem Post 


The United States on Tuesday called on governments worldwide to take action against Lebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, as the Treasury Department sanctioned seven Lebanese nationals it said were connected to the group and its financial firm, Al-Qard al-Hassan (AQAH). – Reuters

Rising global oil prices are translating into shortages at the pump in cash-strapped Lebanon, with motorists lining up for hours to fill their tanks in the latest blow to living standards in the Middle Eastern nation. – Bloomberg

The current mismanagement of Lebanon has put it on “train to hell” which is “about to reach the last station,” Henri Chaoul, a former advisor to the country’s finance ministry, told CNBC. Chaoul, who had advised the government in its talks with the International Monetary Fund, resigned in June last year after Lebanon failed to make the reforms necessary to qualify for IMF assistance. – CNBC

Gulf States

A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker that loaded cargo from Qatar is signalling the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as its destination, the first such shipment since mid-2017, reflecting improving ties between the countries. – Reuters 

Mohammed Soliman writes: While the Abraham Accords is still in its first year, the tech and cyber partnership between the UAE and Israel demonstrates the depth of the geostrategic re-alignment between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. After the Abraham Accords, the Emiratis and Israelis are working in tandem to build a tech and cyber coalition that builds on each nation’s comparative advantage , with Israel’s leadership on cyberwarfare, deep tech, and drones and anti-drones capabilities, and the UAE’s financial muscles and advancement on scaling digital solutions. – Middle East Institute

Antonella Caruso writes: Mohammed bin Salman’s program of forced-pace modernization—known as Vision 2030—goes further than just social reforms. He is promising a return to “moderate Islam,” one that would also promote equality and coexistence rather than the sectarianism, hatred, and division that have long hampered social cohesion in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East over the last decades. – Foreign Policy

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The wider picture is also that the Houthis may have a role in Iraq – and with the pro-Iran militias in Iraq, there is a wider threat heading at Israel through Syria and in linking up with Hezbollah. If Iran wants to coordinate attacks on Israel, such as threats to Israeli shipping that the IRGC has warned about, the Houthis are a natural address. – Jerusalem Post 

Middle East & North Africa

A top U.N. envoy urged Iraqis on Tuesday to uphold the integrity of “all-important national elections” next October, saying the world will be watching to see that voting is free and transparent without political pressure or interference. – Associated Press

The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said Tuesday that part of the waterway would be widened after it was shut down in March by a grounded cargo ship that blocked traffic in both directions for nearly a week. – The Hill 

David Ignatius writes: The United States tried to transform the Middle East and failed. Now our erstwhile allies are trying to pick up the pieces. Iran’s revolutionaries aren’t on the peace train yet, by any means. But I like this Middle East version of build back better. – Washington Post

Amro Selim writes: Regardless of whether one sees the current limitations on youth participation as a product of Arab societies, as reflective of the youth themselves, or a combination of both, the challenge remains. And what is certain is that all of us, together, must spend significant time thinking about the future of the region, which will rely completely upon its youth. So the important question remains: Are the youth able to seriously bear the responsibility of leading the future of the Arab world towards safety? – Washington Institute

John Calabrese writes: In addition to disagreement about the timing and shape of the oil-demand plateau, there is of course great uncertainty regarding whether, much less how quickly, the pandemic might permanently transform individuals’ behavior and societal priorities. Yet, two things seem clear: massive changes in the energy economy will not occur overnight, and in the meantime, sustained demand will be driven by Asia Pacific markets and fed by Middle Eastern oil. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

The Biden administration is open to sharing coronavirus vaccines and other humanitarian assistance to help North Korea combat the deadly pandemic, according to two sources familiar with internal discussions. Administration officials believe that the North Koreans won’t be ready to engage with the US until the threat from the pandemic has passed, which is one reason why sharing vaccines could grease the wheels for initial diplomatic engagement, current and former officials said. – CNN 

South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) announced on 11 May that it has completed development of a new ‘sense-and-avoid’ navigation technology aimed at enabling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to autonomously elude threats and obstacles. – Jane’s 360

Joseph Bosco writes: China has enabled and protected North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, fending off severe international sanctions and undermining even those it reluctantly joined. It also has defended Pyongyang’s human rights depredations as being none of the West’s business. – The Hill 

James Park writes: From there, abandoning strategic ambiguity and taking a clearer pro-US route, though still difficult, could be more manageable for South Korea. After all, replacing strategic ambiguity with strategic clarity should be a shared task in which Washington works with Seoul to create the condition where the consequences are minimized. Pushing for South Korea’s strategic clarity would otherwise have no credibility or appeal. – The National Interest  


Beijing is giving Sweden one last chance to reverse its ban on telecommunications-equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese state media outlet said, before it could retaliate against rival Ericsson. – Wall Street Journal 

The official word from Beijing is that China’s population is still growing — if barely. China released its once-a-decade census results on Tuesday, rejecting whispers that the country may have reached the inflection point where its population begins to shrink. Still, officials acknowledged the looming demographic challenges of an aging population and a stubbornly low birthrate. – Washington Post

Chengdu J-10 jets powered by indigenous engines have entered operational service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, representing China’s confidence in the local technology to equip the single-engine, multirole aircraft. – Defense News

Securing funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to deter China’s military will “remain a priority” of Senate Armed Sources Committee Chairman Jack Reed in the upcoming the upcoming defense policy bill. – Defense News

Far from France, Rear Adm. Jean-Mathieu Rey, Joint Commander French Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific (ALPACI), is responsible for French security interests in the Indo-Pacific – an area of the world that’s growing in complexity as tensions between the U.S. and China continue to build, he told USNI News. – USNI News

With a Chinese university project in Hungary drawing controversy over a lack of transparency and concerns about academic freedom, Beijing’s influence in higher education in neighboring Serbia continues to grow. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Following the sanctions imposed by the U.S., Britain and Canada on China in March 2021 over its persecution of the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang – which join the sanctions imposed on China in July 2020 for passing a law restricting political freedom in Hong Kong – China’s ambassador in Syria, Feng Biao, published an article in the Syrian daily Al-Ba’th titled “Enough with the American and Western Hypocrisy regarding Human Rights and Democracy.” – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Editorial: Now the demographic bill is coming due. Mr. Xi may believe the U.S. is in decline. But he may learn that the greatest obstacle to his ambition to replace the U.S. as global leader doesn’t come from abroad. It is the aging Chinese population that is a legacy of his Communist Party predecessors. – Wall Street Journal

Michael Auslin writes: Were it really the case that America alone was to blame for U.S.-Chinese tensions, then one might expect to see other countries dissociate themselves from Washington’s apparently rash actions, either sitting on the sidelines or actively opposing U.S. policies. Instead, Beijing not only finds itself the target of a widening range of critics but in active disputes with a host of liberal nations. – Foreign Policy


The Taliban gained control on Tuesday of a strategic district headquarters in a province in central Afghanistan, just southwest of the capital of Kabul, a provincial council official said. According to the official, Sharifullah Hotak, the Taliban overran the Nirkh district headquarters in Maidan Wardak province. The insurgents confirmed the significant battlefield success. – Associated Press 

The U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is 6 percent to 12 percent finished, but officials are keeping under wraps the total number of troops still there, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said Tuesday. – The Hill 

Though Muslims in Afghanistan are preparing to celebrate the Eid holiday, “there is a sense of grief and fear and anxiety” now in Kabul, says Shaharzad Akbar, the chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Horrific violence is already normalized in the country, a “forever pain of us Afghans,” as Akbar has described it. – NPR

There are few signs that the Taliban is willing to engage in peace talks, Alison Blake, the British ambassador to Kabul, has said. – The Guardian 

As the U.S. begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan, much of the commentary takes two diametrically opposed tracks. One notes the 20-year U.S. presence, the massive expenditure in blood and treasure, the specter of “forever wars.” […]There is truth in both positions but this is nevertheless a bitter moment in American foreign policy that perhaps could have been avoided, or at least, had a cheaper price tag. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

British and Canadian troops were more than twice as likely to get killed in Afghanistan as their US counterparts, according to a study that looks at the scale of the sacrifice made by Nato allies over the course of the 20-year war. – The Guardian 

Editorial: But Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces has so far brought about a rapid and ominous deterioration in the government’s position and in security for Afghans who support it. If it continues, the result could be a collapse of the political system and civil society the United States spent two decades helping to build, a resurgence of Afghan-based international terrorism, and another massive wave of refugees headed toward fragile neighboring countries as well as Europe. – Washington Post 

Jane Harman writes: These are hard questions, and both need better answers. Congress, working with the administration, should find the way forward to provide room for a president to invoke his or her authority as commander in chief on an emergency basis, while also making clear what risks the American people are prepared to take and to pay for. – The Hill

South Asia

Pakistan’s Prime Minister on Tuesday ruled out talks with neighboring nuclear-rival India, saying they cannot happen until New Delhi restores the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. – Associated Press

Aman Thakker writes: As Washington and New Delhi look to deepen collaboration, Biden’s first 100 days present important lessons for how both countries can enhance their partnership—from positive momentum on climate change to the delayed U.S. response to India’s COVID-19 crisis. – Foreign Policy

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. Washington can be a driving force in constructing an Indo-Pacific “concert” of maritime powers to maintain peace and tranquility and to construct a favorable balance of power in the region. – War on the Rocks


Myanmar security forces have arrested 39 people suspected of being behind explosions and arson attacks as well as trying to get military training with an ethnic minority rebel group, media controlled by the junta said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Two jailed leaders of a student-led pro-democracy movement that attracted both support and controversy last year when it called for reform of Thailand’s monarchy were released Tuesday after repeated requests for bail. – Associated Press

Japanese ground troops joined American and French counterparts in their first three-way exercise on Japanese land, as they seek to strengthen military ties amid growing Chinese assertiveness in the region. – Marine Corps Times

Five suspected militants killed four people in an Indonesian village on Tuesday, beheading one of them, officials said. The attackers also burned a motorcycle that belonged to one of the victims in Kalemago village in Central Sulawesi province’s Poso district, they said. – Associated Press

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo announced on 7 May that the US Navy (USN) will temporarily deploy the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to Japan from mid-May while the US Air Force will send the RQ-4 Global Hawk HALE UAV by the end of the month. – Jane’s 360

Rights organizations and reporters’ groups urged Thai authorities on Tuesday not to repatriate three journalists who fled to Thailand from military-run Myanmar, saying they would face arrest and possible physical harm. – Associated Press 

Editorial: In the almost 100 days since the coup in Myanmar, also known as Burma, the junta has directed a wave of violence at civilian protesters. The association says the military regime has killed at least 781, although the actual number may be much higher. The military regime has also arrested, charged or sentenced at least 3,843 and issued arrest warrants for at least 1,561. – Washington Post 

Amelia Lester writes: And despite Australia’s first recession in three decades last year, it’s even rarer to hear the economic costs of closed borders reckoned with. January 2020 saw almost 100,000 international students arrive in Australia. […]Contrast that with mining, which employs just 2 percent of Australians but gets $29 billion a year in subsidies. Some industries in Australia are too important to fail, but education and tourism are not among them. – Foreign Policy


At least seven young students and two adults were killed and 20 people were injured Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at a school in the Russian city of Kazan, a regional official said, prompting President Vladimir Putin to call for tighter gun controls. – Washington Post

Ukrainian prosecutors are seeking the arrest of Viktor Medvedchuk, a close friend of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and leader of Ukraine’s main pro-Russia party, on suspicion of offences including “treason” and “looting of national resources” in Crimea. – Financial Times

Russia has announced the expulsion of the Romanian Embassy’s deputy military attache in response to Bucharest’s decision to expel a Russian diplomat. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Top security experts recently warned that Russia’s plan to remain the sole Arctic superpower is “worrisome and troublesome” and argued that ambition has economic and military implications far into the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. – USNI News

Russia’s annual Victory Day parade commemorating the anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany has steadily grown in recent decades to become the country’s most important holiday, according to a majority of Russians. But the parade is also one of the largest annual displays of the Kremlin’s military might, showcasing Russia’s latest and most prolific weapon systems. – The National Interest

In the Russian pro-government press’ normally rosy descriptions of Sino-Russian relations, one nettlesome topic frequently comes up – Chinese economic penetration of other countries and particularly countries where Russia occupied a strong position. Pavel Bushuev, TASS’ Belgrade correspondent, in an analysis of the situation in Serbia compares the relative economic positions of China and Russia. He concludes that China is clearly outpacing Russia. – Middle East Media Research Institute


Two men were killed on Tuesday after Sudanese security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at demonstrators marking the anniversary of a deadly raid on a protest site during the country’s 2019 uprising, said medics, protest groups and eyewitnesses. – Reuters

Kenya suspended flights to and from Somalia for three months, jeopardizing a detente that Qatar brokered in a bid to ease diplomatic tension between the nations. – Bloomberg 

Kenya’s Senate joined the National Assembly in backing a plan to restructure the government to make it more inclusive and help avoid power struggles that have turned violent at past elections. – Bloomberg

The Americas

After years of intensifying hostility, the U.S.-Venezuela relationship is under quiet review, with Caracas taking conciliatory steps, top American figures serving as go-betweens and the Biden administration reviewing its sanctions policy. – Bloomberg 

The opposition leader recognized by the U.S. and dozens of other countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader on Tuesday proposed negotiations with the government on resolving the country’s crisis and a possible gradual lifting of sanctions. – Associated Press 

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez said on Tuesday the Central American nation, a long-standing diplomatic ally of Taiwan, could open a trade office in China in a bid to acquire coronavirus vaccines. – Reuters

A Colombian rebel group that has been fighting against the Venezuelan army since March, said in a letter addressed to the International Committee of the Red Cross that it has captured eight Venezuelan soldiers and is trying to find a way to hand them over to human rights groups. – Associated Press

Forty-two people have died during anti-government protests that began two weeks ago amid discontent fueled by growing poverty and inequality during the pandemic, Colombia’s human rights ombudsman said Tuesday. The government agency added that 168 people had been reported missing during the protests, which were set to continue Wednesday. On May 5, the human rights ombudsman said 24 people had been killed in the protests and 89 were missing. – Associated Press

North America

The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale to NATO member and ally Canada of four Lockheed Martin-made Aegis missile defense systems valued at up to $1.7 billion, the Pentagon announced Monday. – Defense News

Martin Griffiths, a U.N. diplomat with wide global experience who has spent the last three years trying to help end the war in Yemen, has been selected by the secretary-general as the new U.N. humanitarian chief, diplomats said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Amal Clooney and Zainab Ahmad write: They deserve nothing less. So the United States should seek the extradition of Umm Sayyaf to face American justice for her alleged crimes. Prosecutors should expand the charges and seek her transfer to the United States to stand trial. […]And the broader Yazidi community deserves the support of the United States to bring other ISIS terrorists to justice in an international court. It is time for the United States to revive a proud legacy and honor the promise of justice for genocide. – Washington Post

United States

Determined to shift the focus of American foreign policy to China from the Middle East and seeing no reliable partner in an unstable Israeli government led by an embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has pursued hard-line positions toward the Palestinians, Mr. Biden has issued familiar endorsements of a two-state solution while making little effort to push the parties toward one. – New York Times

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday dedicated an arm of its intelligence division to target domestic terrorism and opened a new center to help state and local law enforcement combat violent extremists, the latest Biden administration efforts on the problem in the wake of the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol. – New York Times

Christopher C. Miller, who was the acting defense secretary when rioters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, plans to testify before Congress on Wednesday that he worried that sending troops to the complex would contribute to perceptions of a “military coup” under President Donald J. Trump. –  New York Times

The United States is delaying United Nations Security Council efforts to issue a public statement on escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians because it could be harmful to behind-the-scenes efforts to end the violence, according to diplomats and a source familiar with the US strategy. – Reuters

Only one-third of U.S. Jews who took part in a survey released Tuesday believe Israel desires peace with Palestine as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sharply escalates, the Associated Press reported. – Newsweek

A Republican senator plans to propose an amendment to a bipartisan bill on competition with China to ensure scholarships and grants provided by the National Science Foundation only go to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. – Washington Examiner

What started as a confrontation over a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem has sparked some of the fiercest clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in years, with airstrikes and rocket attacks killing at least 30 Palestinians and three Israelis. It has also forced U.S. President Joe Biden to do something he had hoped to avoid: entangle himself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Foreign Policy

Two top Defense Department nominees cruised through a Tuesday confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, setting the stage for a quick path toward the Pentagon. – Defense News


China, home of the Great Firewall, is trying to bring order to a scrappy corner of cyberspace—and in the process put its mark on the next-generation internet. A Beijing-backed initiative aims to shape a category of online record-keeping called blockchain. Most commonly associated with bitcoin, blockchain holds broad promise for business and other uses but has been hobbled by a lack of uniform technical standards. – Wall Street Journal 

The top U.S. fuel pipeline, which has been disabled by a cyberattack for six days, sent workers to manually release some stored supplies on Wednesday as fuel shortages across the Southeast worsened and motorists fumed. – Reuters

Xiaomi Corp. and the U.S. government have reached an agreement to set aside a Trump administration blacklisting that could have restricted American investment in the Chinese smartphone maker. – Bloomberg

They’re more than guns on treads. They rely on a series of networked capabilities: GPS receivers that tell operators where they are, radios to communicate with others, and sensors to detect and identify potential threats. – C4ISRNET

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks released a new plan to manage and learn from the department’s vast data stores that starts with a simple decree: Any DoD data is a resource for the whole agency. – C4ISRNET

A majority of global chief information security officers (CISOs) surveyed as part of a report released Wednesday said they feel their organizations are unprepared to face a cyberattack, despite many believing they will face an attack in the next year. – The Hill


Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and the Pentagon for the first time established bi-directional communications between fifth-generation aircraft in flight while also sharing operational and sensor data to ground forces during a recent test, according to a company statement on 3 May. – Jane’s 360

Rather than focusing on the “arbitrary” 355-ship fleet total, the service should concentrate more effort on developing autonomous vehicles, the top lawmaker on the Senate Armed Services Committee said today. Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Institute, SASC Chairman Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) emphasized the importance of capability over quantity. – USNI News

The following is the May 10, 2021 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Navy Next-Generation Attack Submarine (SSN[X]) Program. – USNI News

Thomas Cullison and J. Stephen Morrison write: All successful organizations evolve, and reorganization and realignment will improve coordination and increase efficiencies. However, extreme care will be necessary to avoid pushing out the dedicated, high-quality, professional members of the DOD’s clinical, public health, research, and scientific staff who are essential to the Department’s contribution to U.S. biosecurity. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Thomas Nagle writes: Wargames are useful specifically because they model human conflict on the battlefield. But conflict within the wargame itself can be an important indicator of ideas that deserve further scrutiny in the cycle of research. Disagreement is common in executive decision situations and actually provides the raw material for clarifying complex problems, focusing on the right information, and identifying useful actions — provided the disagreements are properly leveraged in the process. – War on the Rocks