Fdd's overnight brief

May 21, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Over the past 10 days, Palestinian militants have unleashed one of the most intense attacks on Israel in decades, firing more than 4,000 short-range rockets and deploying a new, explosive drone intended to evade the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said world powers have accepted that major sanctions on his country — including those affecting oil, banking and shipping — will be lifted, triggering a drop in crude prices. – Bloomberg 

Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, said on Thursday it would resume purchases of Iranian oil if Washington lifts sanctions against Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme. – Reuters

The U.N. nuclear watchdog is still in talks with Iran on how to proceed with a three-month monitoring deal that expires on Friday, it said on Thursday, adding that it will provide an update within days. – Reuters

Iran has enlisted intelligence officers in the government’s latest effort to crack down on illegal cryptocurrency miners, as the nation’s power grid struggles to handle rising electricity consumption. – Bloomberg

As Israel and Hamas were reported on Thursday to be close to reaching a ceasefire agreement, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani sent a letter to Mohammed Deif, the supreme commander of Hamas’s military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, in which he pledged that Tehran would not abandon the Palestinians. – Jerusalem Post

Israel intercepted an armed drone sent by Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday at a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tel Aviv. – Bloomberg

Rep. Claudia Tenney writes: Iran’s leaders are freedom-hating revolutionary zealots. With adversaries like these, only a policy of strength and moral clarity will advance America’s interests. A show of weakness and ambivalence invites instability and terror. The Biden administration must recognize its failure and take immediate steps to restore deterrence and reassert control. – Washington Examiner

Seth J. Frantzman writes: If Iraqi-based militias are preparing to fight Israel, hosting Iranian ballistic missiles and potentially using drones against Israel this marks a serious escalation. Israel has operated to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria. In July and August 2019 pro-Iranian groups in Iraq accused Israel of several airstrikes in Iraq. US officials in August 2019 appeared to confirm those airstrikes in quotes published in VOA in the US. – Jerusalem Post 

David Albright and Sarah Burkhard write: This table identifies 19-23 priority locations for IAEA visits.2 More sites are possible; this count represents more of an undercount rather than an overcount. About 17-21 out of these 20-24 locations have never been visited by the IAEA, or alternatively only three of the priority Amad sites, Parchin, Marivan, and the Tehran Plant, have been visited to some extent. All three require follow-up visits due to the finding of yet unexplained traces of undeclared uranium. – Institute for Science and International Security


Hezbollah’s shadow loomed large during Israel and Hamas’ two-week battle, with the possibility it could unleash its arsenal of missiles – far more powerful than Hamas’ – in support of the Palestinians. Instead, Hezbollah stayed on the sidelines. – Associated Press 

Former IDF chief-of-staff Gadi Eisenkot said Hezbollah is deeply concerned by the IDF’s display of power against Hamas in the current round of fighting with the Gaza Strip. “Hezbollah is following and is worried, in my opinion, about what they see,” Eisenkot said. – Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Spyer writes: Iran and its allies appear to wish to avoid any direct intervention in support of Hamas’s current efforts against Israel from the Gaza Strip. […]The launches from Lebanon could not have taken place without the permission of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and their Lebanese Hezbollah proxy, who are the true rulers of that country. But these acts were a gesture, not a signal by IRGC/Hezbollah of intervention into the conflict. – Jerusalem post


Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas agreed to a cease-fire that began early Friday following pressure from the U.S. and its allies to end 11 days of fighting. Israel’s cabinet voted late Thursday to accept an Egyptian-brokered bilateral cease-fire without any conditions, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office. – Wall Street Journal

A cease-fire between Israel and militant group Hamas was holding early Friday, as Palestinians planned victory rallies at a Jerusalem mosque that became the flashpoint for 11 days of fighting. – Wall Street Journal

Through four tense conversations over the past week, Messrs. Biden and Netanyahu spoke about the latest cycle of warfare between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, and the difficult path to a cease-fire. – Wall Street Journal

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the contested city of Jerusalem have escalated into a broader conflict, with Israel striking targets in Gaza in response to rockets launched by Palestinian militants. – Wall Street Journal

As the recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants held past dawn on Friday, attention shifted from the 11-day conflict to its immediate aftermath, which includes a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and potential political fallout in Jerusalem. – Washington Post

With a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants underway, the Biden administration is now turning to how it can help rebuild the besieged Gaza Strip — and in turn bring pressure, through promises of financial support, on Hamas not to resume fighting. – New York Times 

Palestinians rallied by the thousands early Friday after a cease-fire took effect in the latest Gaza war, with many viewing it as costly but clear victory for the Islamic militant group Hamas over a far more powerful Israel. – Associated Press 

The Palestinians’ top diplomat said a cease-fire in Gaza will enable 2 million Palestinians to sleep Thursday night but it’s “not enough at all” and the world must now tackle the difficult issues of Jerusalem’s future and achieving an independent Palestinian state. – Associated Press 

As the Gaza fighting wound down and expectations of a truce rose, a senior Hamas official said in an interview Thursday that the Palestinian militant group has “no shortage of missiles” and could continue bombarding Israel for months if it chose to do so. – Associated Press

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution blocking a $735 million weapons sale to Israel on Thursday, mirroring a symbolic action by the House of Representatives in response to conflict between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas leaders. – Reuters

Editorial: Wavering American support could increase the risk of military clashes, as regional actors perceive that the Jewish State is militarily constrained when attacked. […]The vaunted two-state solution was out of reach before this conflict, and communal violence in Israel made it more so. The first goal for the U.S. should be to support its allies and contain the region’s radicals to reduce the chance of a major war. – Wall Street Journal

Zev Chafets writes: The winner of this tragic round is Hamas. Outgunned and stuck in a hole by a military power with a five-year plan for the next war, it has somehow managed to achieve its principal strategic aim — the bold, if fleeting display of Palestinian unity marching under the banner of jihad. – Bloomberg

Ronna McDaniel writes: By contrast, the Republican Party understands that our shared history, shared interests, and deep bond with Israel compel us to support Israelis at every turn. Despite what violent Hamas terrorists or antisemites might believe, Israel has a right to exist, and America must make clear we stand with our Israeli friends, especially when they are under attack. I urge Biden to stand up to the antisemitism in his party’s ranks. – Washington Examiner

Jonah Goldberg writes: Again, when Israel tries to do things the right way, it’s proof to many critics that the nation is wrong. And if you always start with assumption that the Israelis are wrong, or if you always end with that conclusion regardless of the facts, you may not be antisemitic, but you’re on the side of structural antisemitism. – The Dispatch

Ore Koren writes: By moving beyond the focus on grievances, effectively reallocating resources, ensuring a proportional political representation in the Israeli parliament, improving access to education and job sectors where Arabs are underrepresented (for example, in high tech), and reducing residential disaggregation, the government and society in Israel could give the Arab population a greater stake in the state and ultimately reduce the probability of violence. – Foreign Policy


Groups of angry Lebanese on Thursday beat up Syrian expatriates and refugees heading to the Syrian Embassy in Beirut and pelted their cars and buses with stones and sticks, outraged over what they perceive as an organized vote for President Bashar Assad. – Associated Press 

Lebanon’s parliament will convene on Friday to discuss a letter written by the president saying Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri had shown he was incapable of forming a government that could pull the nation out of financial crisis. – Reuters

Lebanon, whose currency has collapsed amid a deep financial crisis, is launching a scheme to obtain dollars via banks at a rate similar to levels offered by unofficial dealers. – Reuters 

Arabian Peninsula

The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Houthi military officials, the U.S. Treasury Department said, taking action over the Iran-aligned movement’s offensive to seize Yemen’s gas-rich Marib region. – Reuters

A group of Democratic senators are calling on President Joe Biden to take “immediate and decisive action” to end Saudi Arabia’s “blockade tactics” in Yemen that have prevented food, medicine and other crucial supplies from reaching desperate and starving people there. – CNN

David Ignatius writes: When personal feuds become courtroom legal battles, they’re very hard to untangle. But this one has gone on long enough. Aljabri’s family tell me that he is seeking an amicable resolution of all the disputes that would free the children and protect U.S. national security secrets. Letting this squabble to keep festering until it breaches secrets that would damage the kingdom and the United States would be a serious mistake. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt on Thursday reasserted itself as an indispensable mediator in the Middle East after it successfully brokered a cease-fire deal in the short but costly Israel-Hamas war that killed scores of people and caused much destruction in the Gaza Strip. – Associated Press

Spain’s defence minister accused Morocco of “blackmail” on Thursday over its passivity in the face of a surge in migrant arrivals in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta earlier this week. – Reuters

The U.N.’s top human rights body said Thursday it will hold a special session next week to address “the grave human rights situation” in Palestinian areas of Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. – Associated Press 

The de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia, Aslan Bzhania, has wrapped up a three-day visit to Syria, his office said on May 19. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Thomas Blaubach writes: Broad 5G coverage and use would transform society and economies through high-speed connectivity and an expansive IoT network. The development of these technologies may be delayed for much of the region outside the Gulf, but a “parallel approach” to 5G could still provide benefits to the region in the short term. […] The future of 5G in the foreseeable future is uneven in the MENA region, but next-generation technology will certainly have a profound impact throughout the Middle East. – Middle East Institute

Korean Peninsula

Just weeks after President Biden took office, North Korea sent a subtle message to the new administration: It switched on key parts of its nuclear fuel production plant in Yongbyon, the aging complex where the country’s nuclear weapons program was born four decades ago. – New York Times 

The United States is calling on South Korea to set more ambitious climate targets, an issue that will be a part of discussions when President Moon Jae-in meets with President Biden on Friday at the White House. – New York Times 

Here are the top three security-related issues the two presidents will discuss when Moon arrives at the White House. – Washington Examiner


The antigovernment protests that rocked the financial hub in 2019 brought torrents of anonymous street art and political posters that lionized protesters as heroes or explicitly poked fun at Hong Kong’s government and its allies in Beijing. Some of that work was produced by people with established careers in fine arts. – Associated Press 

Staff at some Chinese government offices have been told not to park their Tesla Inc cars inside government compounds due to security concerns over cameras installed on the vehicles, two people with knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters

China’s Huawei Technologies is expanding its smart car partnership with state-owned Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd to include the design and development of auto-use semiconductors, four sources with knowledge of the matter said. – Reuters

The parliament in Lithuania on Thursday became the latest to describe China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority as “genocide”, voting to call for a U.N. investigation of internment camps and to ask the European Commission to review relations with Beijing. – Reuters

The Biden White House expressed additional concerns Thursday that China is withholding information that would either prove or disprove claims that the coronavirus pandemic originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. – Washington Examiner

Tom Rogan writes: These companies have a responsibility to their shareholders to deliver a profit. In fact, I own shares of GE and of Walmart. And yes, China represents a massive market opportunity for all of them. Still, it is sad that these major American companies aren’t even willing to whisper a human rights concern or two in the face of what the Chinese Communist Party is doing. The pursuit of profit at all costs is, at least in China, incompatible with sacred American values. – Washington Examiner

Nury Turkel writes: I want to emphasize that genocide denial is in full swing. The Chinese government is not only carrying out a brutal policy of state violence that is causing immeasurable, irreversible human suffering. It is demanding that the world praise its policy. – Hudson Institute

South Asia

As the latest conflict between Israel and Palestine approaches the two-week mark, it’s worth asking what the crisis means for South Asia, which borders the Middle East. India and Nepal have long-standing links to Israel, and Bhutan normalized ties in December 2020. Meanwhile, South Asia’s Muslim-majority countries, especially Pakistan, champion the Palestinian cause. – Foreign Policy

Pakistani politician Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, a member of the National Assembly from the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Party, demanded that the Pakistani military declare jihad against Israel and use its long-range missiles, F-17 fighter jets, and nuclear weapons against it. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Mihir Sharma writes: For Indians, it’s a disappointment that the starry-eyed narrative of idealistic Indian engineers helping build Silicon Valley is being tarnished. But we should also be glad that discrimination against “lower” castes, so rife in the elite colleges that many Indian engineers graduated from, might be taken seriously in the country in which they aspire to live. Once again, the U.S. can do the world a favor by helping to set new civil-rights standards. – Bloomberg


Myanmar’s junta-appointed election commission will dissolve Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party (NLD) because of what it said was fraud in a November election, news outlet Myanmar Now said on Friday, citing a commissioner. – Reuters

PetroChina International Singapore Pte Ltd sold a cargo of jet fuel into Myanmar in April, according to government import data reviewed by Reuters, the first such shipment since before the military seized power in a coup in February. – Reuters

Children and the elderly make up a large proportion of the people taking refuge in camps in northwest Myanmar to escape fighting between the army and insurgents, residents said on Thursday, as France called for an urgent delivery of humanitarian aid. – Reuters

Jack Destch and Robbie Gramer write: Still, U.S. attempts to keep the relationship on an even keel through the turbulence of the Duterte administration may do little to satisfy human rights watchers. Duterte has raised hackles with a violent drug crackdown and by silencing critics in the media. […]Even though negotiators have made progress when it comes to keeping U.S. forces in the country, experts don’t feel the relationship will be sure footed as long as Duterte is around. That leaves officials looking toward next year’s election in the Philippines, when Duterte is set to leave office. – Foreign Policy

Tom Mutch writes: Yet the regional power that has benefited most from the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war is Russia, Armenia’s supposed ally. […]Russian troops also now function as a bulwark against Turkish influence in Nagorno-Karabakh as the growing rivalry between the two powers escalates. During the September 2020 war, Turkey threw its full diplomatic and military support behind Azerbaijan, and Turkey’s supply of high-tech military hardware was likely the decisive factor in the conflict’s outcome. – Foreign Policy


The Group of Seven is playing a “dangerous game” by making aggressive and baseless criticism of the Kremlin because it pushes Russia closer to China, Russia’s ambassador to London Andrei Kelin told Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin is pleased that the United States has decided to waive sanctions on a major pipeline from Russia to Germany, but Kremlin officials are noncommittal about a prospective one-on-one meeting with President Joe Biden. – Washington Examiner

Republican senators are circulating a bill that would reimpose sanctions against Nord Stream 2 and its Russian-allied CEO after the Biden administration waived them, the Washington Examiner has learned, after the GOP and some Democrats condemned letting the Kremlin-backed project off the hook. – Washington Examiner

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow would “knock the teeth out” of any country that tried to take pieces of his country’s vast territory. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The United States and Russia have clashed over the military and economic development of the Arctic as the region deals with the effects of climate change. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The geopolitical environment for the Arctic has been substantially affected by the renewal of great power competition. Although there continues to be significant international cooperation on Arctic issues, the Arctic is increasingly viewed as an arena for geopolitical competition among the United States, Russia, and China. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Coast Guard are devoting increased attention to the Arctic in their planning and operations. – USNI News 

Tom Rogan writes: All of this begs the question: Why hasn’t Biden, at a minimum, demanded the immediate extradition of the group’s officers? […]The National Security Agency has the means to trace DarkSide’s servers through any deception measures they can create. It has also likely identified at least some of the group’s members. Extradition demands at least should be a no-brainer. But Biden just keeps showing he is weak on Russia. We deserve more than we are getting here. – Washington Examiner

Elisabeth Braw writes: The United States can’t address the melting ice alone, not even with the aid of its Western allies on the Arctic Council. In fact, Arctic cooperation may be a perfect opening for US-Russian cooperation. […]The Arctic Council, however, provided a handy opportunity for the two gentlemen to convene at a meeting that had long been scheduled to take place. Imagine what might be possible at future Arctic Council meetings. – American Enterprise Institute

Nikolas K. Gvosdev writes: It is possible to have a frank conversation and still not to find common ground. But perhaps that ought not to be the metric. Perhaps just finding a way to deconflict the U.S.-Russia relationship is ambitious enough. Three years ago, I wrote in the journal Horizons “that friction in the American relationship with Russia is inevitable, but dysfunction is not. It should be possible to find a way to contain and mitigate the contradictions between the two countries’ approach to international affairs.” We’ll see if the Blinken-Lavrov meeting is the first step in this direction. – The National Interest


The European Parliament halted on Thursday ratification of a new investment pact with China until Beijing lifts sanctions on EU politicians, deepening a dispute in Sino-European relations and denying EU companies greater access to China. – Reuters

The conservative and Greens candidates to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel after September’s federal election clashed on Thursday on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, and on whether Germany should host U.S nuclear weapons. – Reuters

Germany and the United States are in talks to intensify their economic ties after the Biden administration waived sanctions on the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday. – Reuters

The head of NATO’s maritime force says amphibious operations will play a big role in any future combat or crisis response scenario – but he wants to move beyond old notions of what an amphibious operation really is. – USNI News 

European trade ministers will explore on Thursday a post-Trump re-set of transatlantic trade ties in virtual talks with new U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. – Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone on Thursday to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about the current conflict in the Middle East, with both agreeing to support efforts to reach a ceasefire, Merkel’s spokesman said. – Reuters

A young German army officer went on trial on Thursday accused of planning to attack one or more politicians while posing as an Syrian asylum seeker to try to whip up anger against migrants. – Reuters

Changing battlefield priorities was one of the reasons behind the British Army’s decision to ditch the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle update program in the recent defense, security and foreign policy review, according to British Army chief Gen. Sir Mark Carleton-Smith. – Defense News 

France’s top constitutional authority said on Thursday it had rejected a key article of a new security law that could see prosecutions of people who publish footage of police officers in action. – Agence France-Presse 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called Moscow’s recent move to distribute Russian passports to residents in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk — jointly known as the Donbas — “a big problem” and the first step toward the annexation of the area – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Therese Raphael writes: Britain’s reputation has been damaged by the Brexit process. Backing away here would make anyone doubt the country has a strategy for its new place in the world. Johnson’s instincts have always been liberal rather than protectionist. He just needs to stick by them. – Bloomberg

Przemysław Osiewicz writes: The EU and U.S. positions are once again converging, and the assessments and interpretations of the situation and developments in the region are similar. […]The question remains, however, whether the major powers will continue to be guided by their own interests, or whether they are ready to cooperate across divisions on issues that pose the greatest threat to international peace and security. The Middle East conflict is certainly such a threat. So far, the plight of the civilian population, especially in the Gaza Strip, has only grown steadily worse. It is time to move from words to deeds. – Middle East Institute

Benjamin Haddad writes: But the main change has come from European societies themselves and is symbolic of something deeper. Facing terror attacks in the last few years, Europeans have increasingly associated Israel as a country facing similar challenges, the canary in the coalmine for European democracies. […]European leaders regularly now call for a geopolitical EU to “speak the language of power.” Maybe the sense of history is tilting toward Jerusalem, after all? – Foreign Policy


Ethiopia on Thursday expelled an Irish journalist working for The New York Times, dealing a new blow to press freedom in a country as the government fights a grinding war in the northern region of Tigray. – New York Times 

Thousands of Banyamulenge people have fled a flare-up of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks to take refuge in the town of Uvira, on the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika. The renewed violence is a blow for communities that have been wracked by unrest in recent years as warring militias battle over bitter, longstanding ethnic rivalries. – Agence France-Presse 

Ethiopia will hold its delayed parliamentary elections on June 21, the country’s national electoral board announced Thursday, a vote that determines who will be prime minister. There will be no voting in the embattled Tigray region. – Associated Press

Samuel Ramani writes: Although Niger ranks at the bottom of the Human Development Index and has been severely affected by the Sahel’s wave of terrorist attacks, Middle Eastern regional powers view the country as an increasingly important theater of geostrategic contestation. This trend will likely persist after Niger leaves the UNSC in December 2021, as securing influence in Niger could also further the ambitions of the Middle Eastern regional powers in Libya, Mali, and Chad. – Middle East Institute

John Lechner writes: For now, however, the “Russia in Africa” narrative risks creating the wrong response. […]Rather, it is a justifiable display of anger at both the French and U.S. policies that continue to support authoritarianism in his country. The greatest danger is that “Russia in Africa” has already spun a narrative web which can catch and connect these small, disparate events and serve, like the threat of jihadism and Communism before it, as a new excuse for sacrificing human dignity on the altar of superficial stability. – War on the Rocks

Jess Craig writes: Still, escalating violence in southeastern Nigeria and western Cameroon will only add to national and regional security challenges at a time when the region is already struggling with plummeting economies, democratic backsliding, and a resurgence of violent extremism and terrorism. Nigeria and Cameroon, both critical international partners in U.S. anti-terrorism campaigns and once beacons of economic stability in the region, may be on track to becoming failed states, which would have a devastating regional and global impact. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

A court in the Canadian province of Ontario ruled on Thursday that Iran owes damages to families who sued after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020, soon after it took off from Tehran. – Reuters

Mexico has made little headway defusing a bizarre standoff over the possible arrest of a sitting state governor facing charges of tax evasion, money laundering and organized crime. But President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made one thing clear Thursday: Any diplomatic documents the United States sends to Mexico are at risk of being published by the president himself. – Associated Press 

Guatemala on Wednesday dropped a graft charge against a jailed former president and arrested former investigators who built cases against him, hours before a White House meeting to discuss concerns about the rule of law in the Central American nation. – Reuters

Nearly 6,000 Hong Kong residents have applied for a new Canadian special visa program that began taking applications in February, in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is calling a “strong uptake.” – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken won’t participate in any talks with international leaders involving Boeing Co., a top U.S. exporter. – Bloomberg

Ryan Ellis writes: The Biden administration needs to use American influence directly with other nations and indirectly in bodies such as the World Trade Organization to protect the intellectual property rights of our innovators. It also ought to come to the aid of major trading partners like Canada to help them secure their own rights. Only in solidarity will Western concepts of intellectual property rights survive. – Washington Examiner

Kiron Skinner, David Shedd and James Jay Carafano write: Before a complete economic and political collapse of Colombia emerges, the Biden team needs to reverse course. It should oppose those who are actually eroding Colombia’s gains and stand with those who are trying to save their country. This is no time to revive the failed legacy of the Obama presidency in Latin America. The Biden administration needs to weigh carefully its actions if Colombia is to be spared from further political and economic deterioration. – The National Interest


Regulatory concerns have clouded the outlook for the world’s largest gaming company lately. But the latest results for Tencent show it’s still playing the game well. – Wall Street Journal

The Russian arm of Google has appealed a court ruling that its YouTube unit unblock the accounts of the Tsargrad TV channel in Russia and its former chief editor, pro-Kremlin analyst Aleksandr Dugin. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

U.S. Special Operations Command’s top IT official delivered a blunt message to industry Thursday: “I want you to rethink your business models.” SOCOM CIO Lisa Costa requested more flexible tools for operators that the command can easily tailor to mission needs. – C4ISRNET 

The Union of Journalists and the Israel Democracy Institute called on Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and Facebook to fight incitement against journalists on Facebook and WhatsApp in a letter on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

James Stavridis writes: America’s lead in AI is tenuous and shrinking, and some observers believe it is already gone. […]The military operators in all of the services, and especially the intelligence community, must be part of embracing the AI revolution. It is, unfortunately, the battle America is least prepared to fight. – Bloomberg

Christopher M. Dougherty writes: China and Russia aren’t pulling punches. They write openly about winning the struggle for information to gain an edge in peacetime competition and seize the initiative in a crisis or conflict. The Pentagon faces a choice: focus on technologies promising continued information dominance, or take a holistic approach to information and command that seeks degradation dominance in the chaos of modern warfare. – C4ISRNET 

Kristen Cordell writes: In December 2020, CSIS laid out why the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the most important UN agency you have never heard of. On March 31, Secretary Blinken announced U.S. support for an American candidate, Doreen Bogdan-Martin, to lead that important agency. She would be the first woman and the second American to lead the agency. While her candidacy is deeply meaningful, having her at the helm of the ITU would be even more so. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


The Navy needs to pursue large-scale innovation and experimentation across the service to deter U.S. adversaries, according to the department’s number-two civilian. – USNI News 

The Senate Armed Services Committee plans to hold a joint confirmation hearing May 25 to vet President Joe Biden’s nominees for Air Force secretary and two other key Pentagon posts. – Defense News 

The Senate on Thursday sank a Republican proposal meant to boost defense spending by binding Congress to equal increases to defense and nondefense spending. – Defense News 

The Navy on Thursday issued Fincantieri Marinette Marine a $554 million contract to start building the next frigate in the Constellation class, the service announced. The award is for the future USS Congress (FFG-63), which is the second hull in the Constellation class. – USNI News 

The first privately owned Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft have been cleared to provide ‘Red Air’ Aggressor training. Top Aces Corporation announced on 19 May that the surplus F-16s it recently received from Israel have now been certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). – Jane’s 360 

Tim Morrison and Rebeccah L. Heinrichs write: The anti-nuclear idealists will continue to push to abandon, delay, or, if all else fails, call for yet another study. The Biden administration should not fall for this delay tactic. It should instead pursue the reasonable course, based on the reality that the most dangerous kinds of threats facing the country are increasing, and the time is now to clearly demonstrate that the United States, despite our partisan divides, is united in our resolve to deter the most serious threats to our vital interests, and in doing so maintain a credible nuclear deterrent that meets the needs of the 21stcentury. – The Dispatch

Long War

For the past two decades, special operations forces have played a key role in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, finding and disrupting insurgent networks. That counter-terrorism mission will remain a core competency. But bigger potential adversaries actually means a smaller—or at least more subtle—special forces footprint in the field. – Defense One 

Roadside bombings in southern and central Afghanistan killed 13 people, including nine members of one family, officials said Thursday. Meanwhile, militants stopped a bus in western Afghanistan, ordered three men to get out and shot and killed them. – Associated Press 

Michael Rubin writes: Ndayishimiye likely understands the need to pull Burundi into the future, but some of his competitors and factional leaders do not. Well-crafted diplomacy designed to show Burundians the choice their country faces is overdue and could help Ndayishimiye push forward rather than revert to the point where Burundi would formally have the terror moniker it so often in the past deserved. – 1945