Fdd's overnight brief

May 24, 2021

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Over the 11 days of fighting this month, Tehran praised the damage being done to its enemy, and the state news media and conservative commentators highlighted Iran’s role in providing weaponry and military training to Palestinian militants in Gaza to hammer Israeli communities. – New York Times

Iran is expected to decide on Monday whether to extend a temporary agreement with international inspectors on access to surveillance camera images of Tehran’s nuclear sites, a spokesman said. – Associated Press

Iran’s hard-line parliament speaker said Sunday a temporary deal between Tehran and international inspectors to preserve surveillance images taken at nuclear sites had ended, escalating tensions amid diplomatic efforts to save the Islamic Republic’s atomic accord with world powers. – Associated Press

Iran said on Friday a provincial Canadian court has no jurisdiction to rule on a claim for damages over the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane downed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards last year. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said the United States has not seen yet whether Iran will move to comply with its nuclear commitments in order to have sanctions removed even as ongoing talks have shown progress. – Reuters

As Iran gears up to resume oil exports once the United States lifts trade sanctions, former key clients in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan say they’ll wait for the U.S. green light before investigating terms under which they might buy Iran’s oil again. – Reuters

Just days after Israel accused Iran of providing drones to Hamas in Gaza, a factory where such drones are manufactured has fallen victim to a mysterious explosion. – Arutz Sheva 

Iran’s foreign ministry on Friday praised what it called the Palestinian Arabs’ “historic victory” after a ceasefire in Gaza took effect. – Arutz Sheva 

The Iranian government announced its latest UAV today, dubbing it the Gaza-class drone in honor of the recent round of hostilities between Gaza and Israel. The aircraft appears to be patterned after the United States of America’s Predator and Israeli Heron drones. – Arutz Sheva 

Iran’s head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force told his Palestinian Islamic Jihad counterpart Akram al-Ajouri that the recent war against Israel had “destroyed the pride of the Zionist army.” – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: A related illusion is that once the 2015 deal is revived, the U.S. and Iran can seek a phase-two deal that addresses Iran’s missile program and regional imperialism. But what leverage would the U.S. have to win Iranian concessions after it gives up the Trump sanctions? The Administration seems eager to accept even a flawed deal as a way to liberate the U.S. from its entanglements in the Middle East. But this will empower Iran and its proxies and make it more likely America is dragged back in—albeit in a weaker strategic position. – Wall Street Journal

Mike Waltz and Len Khodorkovsky write: Reviving a fatally flawed, outdated deal that strengthens the world’s top terrorist regime that calls for “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” should not be Biden’s objective. Strengthening U.S. national security and standing with U.S. allies should be. – The National Interest

Yochanan Visser writes: Iran was more than instrumental when it comes to the build-up of the rocket and missile arsenals of Hamas and PIJ. It is true that today the Gazan terrorist organizations are able to build their own projectiles. Even the Ayyash, Hamas’ medium-range missile with a range of 250 kilometers was built in Gaza, but Iranian assistance was crucial in this process. – Arutz Sheva 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s Tasnim news says that the fuse lit by Hamas will become the “fire” for a new operation in the future. The report, reflecting the Iranian regime thinking, details how Hamas won the recent war by not losing. Indeed, Iran helped push this war, but was concerned that Hamas and its other proxies in Gaza would lose badly. Instead, they see surprising victory. The report says there are indicators to determine defeat or victory in war. Iran has weighed them and believes Hamas won. This matters because it means Iran and Hezbollah are not deterred in the next round against Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Ammar Al-Musarea writes: As such, in the event of a nuclear deal with Iran that goes without a multilateral parallel effort to stymy Iranian expansion, the United States will likely see a resurgence of terrorism and human rights violations in the region. […]It is therefore imperative that the United States engage its regional allies and capitalize on recent thaws in their relations, promoting multilateral efforts to manage Iranian expansion, with particular focus on Syria. – Washington Institute


The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that took effect at 2 a.m. Friday halted the exchanges of fire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules Gaza. The beaches, bars and cafes are filled again, schools and offices have reopened, and life has snapped back to routine. But Hazam worries that Israel’s readiness to agree to a cease-fire last week communicated weakness to Hamas, whose leaders have already threatened to open the next round of fighting. – Washington Post 

As volunteers and municipal employees worked Sunday to clear the streets of rubble, Israel, the U.S. and other foreign governments looked for ways to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip without channeling funds through the governing militant group, Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued for generations. The latest round is producing something new. It has brought together Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel in ways unseen since 1948, the year of Israel’s creation. – Wall Street Journal

A cease-fire between Israel and militant group Hamas was holding for a second day on Saturday, as more residents in Gaza emerged from their homes to survey the damage caused by Israeli airstrikes and foreign aid began trickling into the isolated strip of land. – Wall Street Journal

The complication is that for Israel and Hamas measures of success or failure aren’t the same.- Wall Street Journal

Regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a two-state solution are the ways to peace, US President Joe Biden said on Friday. “Until the region says, unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace,” the president said. – Jerusalem Post

A resident of the mixed city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha in northern Israel was arrested on Monday by the Israel Police for allegedly producing weapon parts and explosives with the purpose of selling them to terrorist entities, Israeli media reported. – Jerusalem Post

Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh on Friday hailed Hamas’s “victory” in the recent hostilities with Israel, saying it had foiled attempts by Israel to integrate into the Arab world. – Times of Israel

The Israel-Hamas conflict that ended with a ceasefire on Friday showed the Palestinian group’s ability to build an arsenal of home-made rockets largely with civilian materials and Iranian expertise, analysts and officials said, a feat it can likely replicate. – Reuters

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, on Friday that Israel was keen to maintain calm, less than a day after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza came into effect, Egypt said in a statement. – Reuters

Hundreds of masked Hamas fighters brandishing assault rifles paraded in Gaza City and the group’s top leader made his first public appearance on Saturday, in a defiant show of strength after the militants’ 11-day war with Israel. – Associated Press

Israel is expected to change the way the Qatari money is transferred to the Gaza Strip following Operation Guardian of the Walls. Discussions on the issue have been taking place in recent days at the political level, in order to examine the appropriate mechanisms, out of a desire to strengthen the Palestinian Authority at the expense of Hamas following the operation. – Arutz Sheva

Not for the first time, the son of Hamas founder Hassan Yousef has criticized the way in which Israel conducts its military operations against the terrorist organization in Gaza, and has urged Israeli leaders to continue to strike Hamas even after agreeing to a ceasefire. – Arutz Sheva 

The performance of the Israeli Iron Dome air defense system in the Gaza clashes that ended in a ceasefire May 20 has sparked talks between Israel and US about buying more of the missile defense system for the U.S Army, Israeli defense sources here say. – Breaking Defense

The United Nations Security Council on Saturday underscored the “immediate need for humanitarian assistance” to Palestinians in Gaza, following the 11-day battle between Israel and militant group Hamas that ended in a ceasefire late last week. – The Hill

David Ignatius: American presidents have struggled for decades to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Now, Biden has embraced this frustrating and often thankless task. He seemed this week to have learned something from his sometimes overeager predecessors, operating mostly in private and resisting demands for bluster. But one cease-fire doesn’t a peace settlement make, and if history is any guide, the road ahead just gets bumpier. – Washington Post

Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk, and Matt Spetalnick write: At the same time, the Biden administration is looking to leverage the so-called Abraham Accords, agreements reached under Trump for normalization of relations between Israel and Gulf neighbors Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates as well as Morocco and Sudan, to help facilitate contacts between Israel and the Palestinians, U.S. officials said. […]Any effort to draw a link between Israel’s normalization with Arab states and the latest violence would likely be rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. – Reuters

Yossi Klein Halevi writes: Israel is the only country whose neighbors have sentenced it to death. […]To effectively fight terror, Israel must strive to maintain moral credibility as a reluctant occupier. A renewed Israeli peace initiative is our opportunity to convey our vision for a different Middle East. A new peace process would also ensure that the next time we are forced to fight those committed to our destruction, our friends at least will be able to unequivocally affirm Israel’s moral high ground. – LA Times

Haviv Rettig Gur writes: And that’s the tragedy in a nutshell. The Palestinians have two basic strategies: relentless anti-colonial-style violence on the one hand and international diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel on the other. It has not yet dawned on Palestinians, nor on the foreign supporters eager to carry their banner, that the two strategies cancel each other out, that Hamas is constantly clarifying to Israelis the dire consequences of their acquiescence to international demands. – Times of Israel

David Horovitz writes: What the latest, 11-day conflict between Hamas and Israel has made arguably clearer than ever before is that none of this matters because the Israeli leadership no longer subscribes, even in theory, to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Times of Israel

Lahav Harkov writes: But we’re not like the crusaders. We’re still here, 73 years later, and no number of Hamas rockets will get us out of here, not even 4,000 in 11 days, nor will antisemitic attacks on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora. And the reason is that we still have our secret weapon: We still have nowhere else to go. – Jerusalem Post

Robert Satloff writes: The Biden administration does have the option to ride out the current crisis, support the flow of humanitarian goods to Gaza, and then essentially revert to its hands-off posture, perhaps doctored with some diplomatic motion. […]Yet an honest assessment must also recognize that failing to engage fully in this effort would likely ensure another Hamas-Israel war sometime in the future, with more lethal weapons and a higher body count. – Washington Institute

Vivian Bercovici writes: Al Aqsa is not “occupied.” The property dispute involving a Jewish landlord who has held title to certain land in Sheikh Jarrah since 1875—on which Palestinian tenants have resided for more than 50 years, without title—remains unresolved. And life will ease back into what passes for normal in these parts, until the next flare-up. – Commentary Magazine


The Iraqi government is expected to bring home about 100 Iraqi families from a sprawling camp in Syria next week, a first-time move that U.S. officials see as a hopeful sign in a long-frustrated effort to repatriate thousands from a site known as a breeding ground for young insurgents. – Associated Press

A month after an explosives-laden drone targeted U.S. forces at an Iraq base, the top American commander for the Middle East says finding better ways to counter such attacks is a top priority, and the United States is still behind the curve on solutions. – Associated Press

Iran has hand picked hundreds of trusted fighters from among the cadres of its most powerful militia allies in Iraq, forming smaller, elite and fiercely loyal factions in a shift away from relying on large groups with which it once exerted influence. – Reuters

Arabian Peninsula

The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen thwarted an “imminent” Houthi attack using an explosives-laden boat south of the Red Sea, Saudi Arabian state media said on Monday. – Reuters

A leader of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement on Sunday dismissed U.S. sanctions on military officials and threatened possible expanded attacks on “aggressor countries” after Washington urged the group to engage seriously in peace efforts. – Reuters

Qatar will pursue efforts to stop Israeli “aggression” against Palestinians and the Al-Aqsa Mosque with concerned parties, Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a phone call on Saturday, the state news agency QNA reported. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates stands ready to facilitate peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, the de facto ruler of the Gulf state said in remarks carried on state media on Sunday. – Reuters

Ali Alahmed writes: MBS wants American decisionmakers and corporate shareholders to believe he’s serious about democratic reforms and free markets as a guarantee of stability. Nothing he has done so far reflects a sincere commitment, and at the very least the Biden team can reject that misleading narrative. As results of the administration’s reassessment are revealed in the coming weeks and months, MBS will know just how much latitude he has to continue to reinforce his iron rule and regional adventurism, all to the detriment of both our countries. – The Hill

Frédéric G. Schneider writes: The UAE needs instead to focus on its national competitive advantages and avoid ineffective policies and internecine competition. Most importantly, it needs to fundamentally redirect spending to research and development, thoroughly reform education systems and political institutions, and cultivate an open mentality of creativity, inquisitiveness, initiative and critical thinking. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

As the United States scales back its military presence across the Middle East to focus on great power competition with China and Russia, it risks giving those two countries a chance to fill the gap and expand their influence around the Gulf, the top U.S. commander for the region said Sunday. – Associated Press

The U.N. special envoy for Libya warned the Security Council on Friday that progress on the key issue of withdrawing mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya has stalled and their continued presence is a threat not only to Libya but to the entire African region. – Associated Press

An Egyptian appeals court said Sunday it lacks jurisdiction to look into the Suez Canal Authority’s demands to uphold financial claims that led to the seizure of the cargo ship that blocked the waterway in March. – Associated Press

A Western Sahara independence leader at the centre of a diplomatic dispute between Rabat and Madrid must answer legal charges in Spain before leaving the country, Spain said on Sunday. – Reuters

Jordan’s King Abdullah stressed on Sunday the importance of translating the Gaza ceasefire into an extended truce, and said there is no alternative to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. – Reuters

Lebanese President Michel Aoun did not intend to revoke prime minister designate Saad al-Hariri’s mandate when he wrote to parliament last week declaring that Hariri could not form a government, Aoun’s son-in-law said on Saturday. – Reuters

Kenneth R. Rosen writes: Northeast Syria is a crucial bulwark against IS, Iran, and potential Turkish aggression, providing a point of stability in a region often awash in chaos. […]Yet the United States has frequently jeopardized its influence in the area, most prominently when making withdrawal announcements. If the Biden administration fails to signal its confidence in local authorities and its clear intent to continue U.S. support, all of the gains that have been made there—from recapturing IS territory to bridging Kurdish gaps and holding back Russia, the Assad regime, and Turkey—will be lost. – Washington Institute

Emadeddin Badi writes: The coming phase of Libya’s transition will prove increasingly precarious for Turkey. For Ankara to sustainably secure its economic gains, it should resist the short-term benefits of buttressing militias and working with individual elites. Instead, Ankara should surmount the origins of its intervention and focus on supporting Libyan institutions. […]If Turkey continues on its current course, Libya’s security challenges will persist, and Ankara’s influence will wane, regardless of how hard it attempts to entrench itself in the country. – War on the Rocks

Barry Strauss writes: It’s not just about war. The Abraham Accords, and the larger promise of Arab-Israeli peace, may be the best development in the region in many years. Economic integration, missile defense and people-to-people relationships are all among the possibilities. These, along with continued sanctions pressure on Iran, offer a better promise of peace to the region than does a renewed nuclear deal with Iran. It’s not too late for the Biden administration to change course. – The Hill

Korean Peninsula

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday the United States is waiting to see if North Korea wants to engage in diplomacy over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. – Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday injected fresh urgency into attempts to engage North Korea in dialogue over its nuclear weapons, with Biden saying he would meet its leader Kim Jong Un under the right conditions. – Reuters

As North Korea continues to develop its arsenal of ballistic missiles, it may be increasingly looking to develop the ability to defeat, or at least significantly challenge, regional ballistic missile defense systems. – The National Interest

John Bolton writes: To date, the Biden administration has proved much more adept at pressuring friends like Israel than pressuring states that are real threats to America and our allies, such as China and North Korea. Last week’s meeting with President Moon was another missed opportunity. – Wall Street Journal

Ethan Kessler writes: The drivers of liberal electoral losses in Seoul and Busan may endure, presenting conservatives with an opportunity to seize the Blue House next year. Recent mayoral elections are a reminder that South Korean politics play a big part in advancing U.S. diplomatic efforts in Korea — whether Americans realize it or not. – The Hill


An Australian writer and businessman is scheduled to face trial in Beijing next week on a charge of espionage, bringing to the fore one of the disputes that have sent relations between China and Australia tumbling into icy antagonism. – New York Times

While it has been known in broader strokes that United States officials considered using atomic weapons against mainland China if the crisis escalated, the pages reveal in new detail how aggressive military leaders were in pushing for authority to do so if Communist forces, which had started shelling the so-called offshore islands, intensified their attacks. – New York Times

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory. – Wall Street Journal

A debate over how much to push back against the Chinese government has set off a conflict inside a prominent coalition that guides much of the world’s cotton production. – Wall Street Journal

China’s Zhurong rover set its wheels on the surface of Mars early Saturday, beginning a tour of the red planet that is expected to last 90 days. – Wall Street Journal

Australia said its citizen Yang Hengjun will be tried by a Chinese court on espionage charges on Thursday amid deteriorating relations between the countries. – Associated Press

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said that the 105 apps violated laws by excessively collecting and illegally accessing users’ personal information, according to a statement posted on its site Friday. – Associated Press

China’s leading diplomat will travel to Russia on Monday for security talks, the latest sign of deepening ties between Beijing and Moscow. – Financial Times

Beijing has rebuffed the Pentagon’s requests for talks between China’s top officer and the new US defence secretary, complicating bilateral relations at a time of heightened tensions between the world’s two most powerful militaries. – Financial Times

The top political leader of Tibet’s government in exile said on Friday that there is an urgent threat of “cultural genocide” in Tibet, and the international community must stand up to China ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. – Reuters

China will uphold the leadership of the Communist Party in Tibet to further its economic development, and guide Tibetan society in accordance to socialism, the region’s top official said on Saturday. – Reuters

Lawrence J. Haas writes: To thread the needle, the United States should let its athletes compete but do nothing more that would promote Beijing’s self-congratulatory spectacle and, by extension, legitimize its human rights abuses. Top U.S. officials should not attend the games, nor should our largest companies sponsor them. […]These games, however, offer an opportunity for U.S. national unity at a time when the country could really use one—a moment when, together, America’s public and private sectors can make a powerful statement on human rights. – The National Interest

Yaroslav Trofimov writes: Yet the move, and the fallout it has generated, highlight a key shift in U.S. foreign policy under the Biden administration: back to using human-rights issues—and the values that bind the U.S. and its Western allies together—as a tool in America’s strategic effort to keep an assertive, resurgent China from upending the international order. The difficulty is that a number of important allies against China, especially in Asia, have troubling human-rights records of their own. As with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the U.S. once again faces the dilemma of reconciling its strategic needs with the principles that it proclaims in grappling with its chief global rival. – Wall Street Journal

South Asia

Ten of thousands of Pakistanis marched in support of the Palestinians on Friday as a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas took effect after 11 days of fighting, but a bomb blast killed six people at one rally in southwest Pakistan. – Reuters

Militants in Afghanistan fired across the border at a military post in northwestern Pakistan, killing a soldier in a firefight with Pakistani troops, the military said. – Associated Press

A CNN anchor shut down comments made by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who alleged in an interview on Thursday that Israel has “connections” to “deep pockets” that “control media.” – Jewish Insider

Bangladesh has reportedly lifted its travel ban to Israel in an unexpected move welcomed by the Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Pacific Gilad Cohen. – Jerusalem Post

Charles E. Ziegler writes: Obviously, foreign policy has moved to the back burner as India struggles with a massive wave of coronavirus infections. The United States should do more to help India deal with the pandemic, and then remove certain obstacles to cooperation in Central Asia. The threat of applying Countering America’s Adversaries With Sanctions on India’s purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems is counterproductive, and the Biden administration should grant a waiver. […]These measures would go a long way toward reducing Indian resentment of American diktat and would strengthen prospects for U.S.-Indian collaboration as America winds down its longest war. – The National Interest


Myanmar’s deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person at a court hearing on Monday for the first time since her government was overthrown by the military in a Feb. 1 coup, her lawyer told Reuters. – Reuters

The Chinese-claimed island and Beijing have repeatedly sparred over the pandemic since it began. – Reuters

Taiwan criticised on Monday what it called World Health Organization (WHO) “indifference” to the health rights of Taiwan people and for capitulating to China after the island failed to get invited to a meeting of the WHO decision-making body. – Reuters

Samoa’s political crisis intensified on Monday as the leader of the opposition party held a ceremony to form government outside a locked parliament after the incumbent prime minister refused to cede power. – Reuters

The Philippines and China held “friendly and candid” talks on the South China Sea, the Philippines’ foreign ministry said on Saturday, days after the minister ordered Chinese vessels out of the disputed waterway in an expletive-laced tweet. – Reuters

The European Union on Sunday denounced a proposal by Myanmar’s junta-appointed election commission to dissolve deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which overwhelmingly won the general election in November. – Reuters

Fighters opposed to Myanmar’s military junta fought with troops in the east of the country on Sunday and claimed to have killed more than 13 members of the security forces, captured four and razed a police station, local media said. – Reuters

Hong Kong said on Friday its suspension of operations at its Taiwan representative office was motivated by Taipei’s “gross” interference in internal affairs, including with its offer to assist “violent” protesters, accusations Taiwan rejected. – Reuters

The first operational deployment of Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to Asia will show countries such as China that Britain believes in the international law of the sea, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday. – Reuters

More than a thousand Muslims rallied outside the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia’s capital on Friday to denounce American support for Israel and demand an end to Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. – Associated Press


But as Russian authorities work to shut down what remains of his movement, the coming months could determine the outcome of Mr. Navalny’s standoff with the Kremlin and reveal what, if anything, will succeed him if he fades into obscurity. – Wall Street Journal

In the months since, Radio Free Europe, which is funded by the U.S. government, has entered a standoff with the Russian government. – New York Times

The United States formally blacklisted more than a dozen Russian ships involved in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, days after exempting the pipeline’s Russian operator and CEO. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday said it was “up to Russia” whether or not it has a more stable relationship with the U.S. following a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. – The Hill

Editorial: If that’s what occurs, the Biden administration must respond reciprocally. So far, it has focused on reversing the punitive measures; Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised them this week in his first face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. But if RFE/RL is forced to close its Moscow bureau or other Russian operations, Russian state outlets that operate in the United States, including RT and Sputnik, should not continue to have unimpeded access to U.S. airwaves. – Washington Post

Paul Roderick Gregory writes: I suspect that Biden is playing the Obama administration’s “concessions to get concessions” game. If so, this will not work with Putin, who takes concessions as a sign of weakness. Even more threatening is the fact that Putin will never agree to a Ukrainian settlement that allows for a peaceful, Western-oriented and prosperous Ukraine. This means that the only path to any agreement would be one that sells out Ukraine by reintegrating it back into Russia’s sphere of influence. – The Hill

Janusz Bugajski writes: U.S. policy should not be based on the forlorn hope of partnership with Russia. Strategy needs to be rooted in reality, in which Western vulnerabilities are rectified and Moscow’s anti-American actions are combated. […]And if America’s democracy or critical infrastructure are attacked by the Kremlin or its proxies, then policies must be pursued to limit future offensives by targeting Russia’s domestic and international fragilities. Faith, hope, and charity have no place in confronting a predatory power. – Washington Examiner

Michael Rubin writes: Both Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump withdrew the United States from UNESCO because of disputes about the organization’s corruption and politicization, and President Barack Obama cut funding from the group. Mehriban’s actions show that UNESCO has learned little. Indeed, by allowing the Azerbaijani first lady to represent it, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay appears to signal that, rather than prioritize the protection of culture, UNESCO now sides with those who would destroy centuries-old cultural heritage. – 1945

Samuel Bendett writes: The Russian military is also making sure its c-UAS systems and concept of operations involve the latest technologies, such as artificial intelligence, for the greatest advantage against the growing sophistication of the global drone force. New counter-drone radars and UAVs capable of targeting other drones are in development by the Russian military-industrial enterprises. As the UAV threat will continue to persist, Russian MoD efforts will be directed at the continuing refinement of its c-UAS practices, while seeking to introduce technology capable of offering protection against adversaries’ drone developments. – Defense News


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko scrambled a jet fighter to force a Ryanair commercial aircraft to land in Minsk, where a Belarusian journalist and opposition activist was detained. – Wall Street Journal 

A weeklong manhunt for a Belgian soldier whom authorities suspect of planning a terrorist attack is highlighting concerns over right-wing extremism in Western militaries. – Wall Street Journal

North Macedonia received support in its bid to begin European Union membership talks from Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia, a day after Bulgaria said it planned to continue to exercise its veto to block the small Western Balkan nation. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Ukraine has stepped up its pressure on Washington over the contentious Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, appealing to the US Congress to maintain sanctions against the project. – Financial Times

Corporate lobbyists have scored a big win in Brussels after the European Commission was forced to delay a landmark proposal on making companies more accountable for human rights and environmental abuses in their supply chains. – Politico

The U.S. is definitively not interested in attempting to purchase Greenland, abandoning an effort floated by former President Trump as “a large real estate deal.” – The Hill

Max Boot writes: The force-down of the Ryanair flight must be seen in this perspective — not as an isolated incident but as part of a pattern of dictators testing the West with ever-greater brazenness. That makes it all the more imperative that the European Union and the United States do more than issue ritualistic denunciations of Lukashenko’s air piracy. Lukashenko must pay such a high price for this aggression that it will give pause to other tyrants and start to mend the tattered fabric of international law. – Washington Post

Michael Peel writes: Other outside pressures have also led the Europeans to conclude they need to expand their military reach. The US has long wanted them to spend more on their armed forces and take more responsibility to help stabilise countries near its borders, such as Ukraine and Georgia. At the same time, the departure of the UK from the EU has removed a historical obstacle to greater military co-operation between member states. The EU’s emerging new military posture includes the possible revival of a rapid-reaction force to intervene in international crises. – Financial Times

Pablo Pardo writes: The other result could be a PP that abandons its Christian-democratic roots to adopt a more nationalist stance—following the example of the British Conservative Party, which adopted many of the far-right UK Independence Party’s positions, or the U.S. Republican Party, which morphed into a nationalist-populist movement under former President Donald Trump. […]The refugee crisis triggered by Morocco this week may well end up turning Spanish politics more nationalist, populist, and anti-immigrant. – Foreign Policy

Dalibor Rohac writes: Those who wish to hear the EU to speak with one voice are correct that the principle of unanimity on foreign and security matters makes it impossible to arrive at clear-cut decisions in real time. Yet, they ought to be careful about what they wish for. Sometimes no voice at all, or a plethora of contradictory voices, might be preferable to a voice that would have been as blatantly wrong as in the present case if the dominant European narrative had its way. – Brussels Report

Gabriel Mitchell writes: Greece and Cyprus’ association to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has changed in recent years, however they can play a constructive role in improving on-the-ground conditions in the Palestinian territories as well as supporting regional and international initiatives that encourage Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. […]There are countless, smaller matters concerning the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations that have yet to be resolved and could benefit from external engagement. Future mediators should include Greece and Cyprus amongst the select number of international actors that can play a modest role in advancing the cause of peace. – Middle East Institute


A U.S.-backed consortium beat out one financed by China in a closely watched telecommunications auction in Ethiopia—handing Washington a victory in its push to challenge Beijing’s economic influence around the world. – Wall Street Journal

The United States has begun restricting visas for people undermining efforts to resolve the deadly fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, saying it is time for the international community to take action in a conflict that has sparked allegations of ethnic cleansing and fears of famine. – Associated Press

Egyptian military forces arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum ahead of a joint drill amid mounting tensions with Ethiopia over a decade-long Nile water dispute, Sudan’s state-run news agency reported Friday. – Associated Press

French President Emmanuel Macron will name an ambassador to Rwanda, which for years accused Paris of complicity in its 1994 genocide, in a final step to normalise diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Elysee Palace said on Friday. – Reuters

Russia’s defense industry is preparing to unveil the new Strela amphibious armored vehicle at ShieldAfrica 2021 exposition, the latest in its ongoing attempts to expand its presence in the lucrative and rapidly growing African arms market. – The National Interest

Michael Rubin writes: Instead of throwing money at problems as the United States has done in the past, it should encourage African countries to emulate a regulatory environment like Rwanda’s which encourages start-ups and innovation, both indigenous and foreign. With every delivery from a company like Zipline—now counting almost 150,000 commercial deliveries helping 25 million serviceable customers—the United States can win hearts and minds in a way a new Chinese stadium or Russian copper mine never can. – The National Interest

Micahel Rubin writes: A small U.S. investment in biometrics, identity documentation, and capacity on the DRC side would benefit not only the African Great Lakes region’s security but America’s as well. […]In Africa, however, Biden could correct Trump’s neglect to the benefit not only of regional states but of broader U.S. interests and counter-terrorism policy as well. – The National Interest

Lela Gilbert writes: But while all eyes are on the Middle East, Iran has not been idle elsewhere. Its persistent and growing influence in Africa has flown under the radar for many observers. […]Meanwhile, in Gaza, a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official recounted that a portrait of the late and lionized Iranian General Qassem Soleimani—who was, by the way, a devout believer in the Twelfth Imam’s reappearance—hangs in every Gaza home, and “they [Iran] are the ones who support us with weapons, money, and food.” Will Iran do any less for its burgeoning African militias? – Newsweek

The Americas

Colombia is coming under international pressure to halt what diplomats and human-rights advocates say is an unprecedented and ruthless police crackdown on citizens during three weeks of sometimes-violent protests in which police have sporadically been targeted. – Wall Street Journal

Amnesty International named one of Cuba’s leading dissidents a “prisoner of conscience” on Friday, saying state security appeared to have him under supervision and incommunicado at the hospital where authorities admitted him nearly three weeks ago. – Reuters

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is pulling aid from El Salvador’s national police and a public information institute and will instead redirect the funding to civil society groups, the agency’s head said in a statement on Friday. – Reuters

William M. LeoGrande writes: An effective Cuba policy requires a realist mindset that recognizes, once and for all, Washington’s inability to impose its will on Cuba. Policymakers need to give up the illusion that sanctions will produce victory, and get about the hard work of engaging with a regime that we may not like, but that is not going away any time soon. – The National Interest

Daniel F. Runde and Amy Doring write: Using the Biden administration’s strategy toward Central America as a framework, investment in the Panama Canal can fall under efforts to enhance security and strengthen regional transparency to bolster strong governance and the rule of law. […]The integration of the Panama Canal into a broader Central America strategy will require increased U.S. engagement with Panama itself, with the added benefit of rivaling China not only in the Canal but in the broader region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

A series of attacks on Jews in the United States in recent days, linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, has increased pressure on law enforcement officials, lawmakers and the Biden administration to take more steps to quell antisemitic violence. – Washington Post

Black Lives Matter, which has grown into a potent political force amid a national reckoning on race, has responded forcefully to the violence in the Mideast to extend its reach into foreign policy, pressing the Democratic Party to adopt a dramatically different approach to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Washington Post

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said arms sales to Israel would be done in consultation with Congress but signaled there would be no halt on such transfers following the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas militants. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. security assistance to Israel is coming under increasing scrutiny from progressive lawmakers in Congress after this month’s bloody conflict in Gaza. – The Hill

Progressive Democrats are pushing forward efforts to dramatically shift the U.S. relationship with Israel, as the dust settles from a cease-fire that ended 11 days of devastating war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. – The Hill

Five of America’s largest and most prominent Jewish organizations sent a letter on Friday to President Joe Biden asking for immediate action on antisemitism, as hate crimes against Jews have skyrocketed over the past two weeks amid the backdrop of the conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group. – Algemeiner

Attacks on Jews from London to California now appear to revolve around a series of systematic assaults by groups of pro-Palestinian men organized in militia-like groups. – Jerusalem Post

David French writes: Our nation’s first president told believers in one of the world’s most persecuted religions that they would have a home in this land. That founding promise helped define this nation. Breaking that promise would define us again, but in an entirely different way. America cannot be America when Jews are beaten in the streets. – The Dispatch


German hospitals may be at increased risk from hackers, the head of the country’s cyber security agency said on Saturday, following two high-profile digital attacks this month on the Irish health service and a U.S. fuel pipeline. – Reuters

Two prominent aerospace industry groups are cooperating on cyber information sharing, awareness, education, and outreach to improve the security of space operations. – Breaking Defense

Daniel N. Hoffman and Shawnee Delaney write: Mitigating the risk of malicious insider threats requires effective employee lifecycle management: hiring people who are a good fit for the enterprise and onboarding them with proper training; continuing through the employment phase with training and awareness; tracking of red flag indicators; and a robust employee assistance program. – The Hill

Peter Pry writes: The problem may be that there are too many lawyers and non-expert bureaucrats in charge of national preparedness for EMP and cyber warfare who lack deep technical expertise. […]Today what is urgently needed are EMP and cyber warfare experts to run another “Manhattan Project” to quickly protect America’s critical infrastructure. Their maxim should be: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way!” – The Hill

Michael R. Czinkota writes: We need an annual event devoted to catching up. That time would help us to see and test the shortfalls in our understanding of processes. Flipping a switch or pushing a button should alert the system that attention is needed. Those on the controls need to know why they have just undertaken a measure and what it does. We need to remember what we may have forgotten. We must recall with a personal, replicable event the rationale, causality and linkages of our actions. Doing so will greatly strengthen our capabilities to plan, understand and reduce risk exposure. – The Hill

Kathryn Waldron and Tatyana Bolton write: If Biden truly wants to protect our critical infrastructure, CISA will need additional funding and staff to help address new tasks. The Colonial Pipeline hack proves that any sector can suffer the effects of a cyberattack. Modernizing our infrastructure without focusing on cybersecurity is simply doubling down on the mistakes that have left our nation’s systems so defenseless. If the administration wants our country to become more resilient, then it’s time for it to put its money where its mouth is to enact real change. – The Hill

John Rossomando writes: Artificial Intelligence could offer the Pentagon more effective means for detecting and countering attackers, identifying attacks in progress, and possibly neutralize them. U.S. Cyber Command also is developing offensive cyber capabilities. In the end, the U.S. government must slash the bureaucracy and foster improved cooperation to secure the nation’s military and civilian infrastructure. – The National Interest


As part of the first capability release of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System program, the service plans to outfit a portion of its Boeing KC-46 aerial refueling tankers with “an open architecture communications subsystem and edge processing” equipment that will allow it to pass data between the F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters, the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office said in response to written questions from Defense News. – Defense News

Details of President Joe Biden’s first defense budget won’t be out until Friday, but lawmakers on the left and right have already drawn out their lines for the battle ahead. – Defense News

A large unmanned aircraft from Aevum that can launch small rockets while flying will also be able to deliver cargo and host intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads, the company said. – C4ISRNET

Nomad, a former offshore patrol vessel retrofitted with systems to allow the ship to operate autonomously, passed through the Panama Canal this week, according to ship spotters tracking data from Marine Traffic.com. A Navy official also confirmed the transit. – USNI News

Dov S. Zakheim writes: DARPA long has been a national treasure, the source for key breakthroughs such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the internet. It not only should be funded, but its programs should be put to the best use possible so that, as Sasse envisions, the technology that American democracy generates will continue to outpace whatever Chinese autocracy can produce. – The Hill

Mackenzie Eaglen and Dov S. Zakheim write: Expanding the widow for analysis and review in the budget process can help lawmakers to fulfill their obligations as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. Congress should compel by law the Office of Management and Budget to join the Defense Department in providing detailed budget information by making its passback budget guidance available to the legislative branch in real time. Unelected public servants should be held accountable for their choices affecting literally “every policy decision made by the federal government.” – War on the Rocks

Stephen Blank and Peter Huessy write: Policy recommendations that oppose nuclear modernization amount to unilateral disarmament and a betrayal of U.S. allies. Such recommendations do not merit serious consideration, whether killing Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, cutting the number of Columbia-class submarines, or eliminating the Long Range Standoff Weapon or bomber cruise missiles, as well as upgrades to America’s regional NATO-based extended deterrent. The idea that if Washington simply shows restraint then its adversaries will do the same is ultimately the triumph of hope over reality. – The National Interest

Long War

A former FBI analyst with top-secret security clearance was indicted this week on charges that she illegally took numerous national security documents, including materials related to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and kept them in her home over the course of more than a decade. – Washington Post

Nigeria’s military is investigating reports that the leader of militant Islamist group Boko Haram may have been killed or seriously injured following clashes with rival jihadists, an army spokesman said on Friday. – Reuters

NATO will continue to train Afghan special forces outside the country after it winds up 18 years of security work in conflict-torn Afghanistan in coming months, the military organization’s top civilian official said Friday. – Associated Press