Fdd's overnight brief

May 3, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


The fate of a deal that would free Israeli hostages and stop the war in Gaza is now in the hands of two leaders whose future is at stake in the war: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas’s top leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. – Wall Street Journal 

Rebuilding all the homes destroyed by Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip could take until the next century if the pace of reconstruction were to match what it was after wars there in 2014 and 2021, according to a United Nations report released on Thursday. – New York Times

The U.S. on Thursday called on both Israel and Hamas to ensure that aid bound for civilians in Gaza is not disrupted, after a shipment from Jordan was attacked by Israeli settlers and subsequently diverted by Palestinian militants. – Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday he did not see any indication Hamas was planning any attack on U.S. troops in Gaza but added adequate measures were being put in place for the safety of military personnel. – Retuers

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a group of Iran-backed armed groups, launched multiple attacks on Israel using cruise missiles on Thursday, a source in the group said. – Reuters

Palestinian security officers killed a gunman in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, a rare intra-Palestinian clash whose circumstances were disputed and which the fighter’s faction described as an Israeli-style “assassination”. – Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised once again Thursday that the military will operate against Hamas in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, while publicly acknowledging for the first time that there are disputes within his cabinet over the correct way to move forward with the prosecution of the war. – Agence France-Presse

While in the Mideast, Secretary Blinken is perfecting his signature art of the bad deal. His endless campaign to ease Israeli pressure on Hamas seems likely to end in a failure to release hostages and at least a partial rejection of a “generous offer.”  – New York Sun

As the war cabinet convened on Thursday evening, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that the assumption among the country’s leadership is that Hamas will officially reject the latest offer for a hostage and truce deal. – Times of Israel

Harsh remarks by the UN Secretary-General against Israel during the war in Gaza raise concerns that for the first time, Israel will be included on the “blacklist” of countries that harm children in conflict zones, as reported by Yediot Aharonot. – Arutz Sheva

Leor S. Weinberger writes: For many Israeli scientists, the best way to overcome their country’s trauma is through continued productivity and innovation. There’s bitter irony in this. Some in the scientific community—despite our profession’s mandate to advance the world through knowledge—have no problem excluding a group of colleagues, based on national origin, who are striving to heal themselves by contributing in precisely this way. – Wall Street Journal

Hadas Lorber writes: For Israel, the opportunity arises to deepen strategic cooperation with its most important ally and with other partner countries, including in the region, facing environmental challenges and in need of breakthrough technologies to find solutions. – Jerusalem Post

Dr. Aaron Lerner writes: That’s not to say that there aren’t people in the Likud party who would like to take his place. Just that Netanyahu has developed such a powerful operation in social media and elsewhere that he can be confident that his team can crush anyone from the national camp who challenges him both inside and outside the party. If, for perhaps the first time in his political life, Binyamin Netanyahu opts for decisive action rather than procrastination, it will not be for political survival. It will be for the nation’s survival. – Arutz Sheva

Dr. Avigdor Haselkorn writes: All this maneuvering is designed to reach a cease-fire in Gaza – which Washington hopes would be promptly followed by a truce with Hezbollah as promised by its leader Hassan Nasrallah – so that Biden’s bid for a second term will not be hindered. The Biden offer comes at an exorbitant cost, yet the merchandise it is peddling is woefully defective and must be recalled. – Ynet

Dr. Omer Dostri writes: If the American administration genuinely supports Israel’s military objectives and aims to secure the release of its citizens held captive by Hamas, it must afford Israel the latitude and flexibility to apply significant military pressure on Hamas. This pressure could compel Hamas to release the hostages. Subsequently, the U.S. should allow Israel the freedom of action to conduct military operations in Rafah, targeting the complete dismantling of Hamas’ military and governmental infrastructure. – Ynet


In the video posted to Telegram, a banner emblazoned with the face of rapper Toomaj Salehi hangs from a highway overpass in Tehran. “Forced officer, forced executioner, one who just follows orders, go find a rat hole,” says a woman off camera, quoting lyrics from Salehi’s 2021 breakout hit. – Washington Post

Iran’s judiciary denied on Thursday a BBC report suggesting a teenage girl was sexually assaulted and killed by Revolutionary Guards during the 2022 protests triggered by Mahsa Amini’s death. – Agence France-Presse

In the past couple of weeks enormous billboards were seen around Israel showing an hourglass with the flag of the Islamic Republic and promising that the end of the Ayatollah regime in Iran is nearing – setting the date for a mysterious October 28, 2028. – Jerusalem Post

Tehran has imposed a round of sanctions on a group of American and British companies and individuals, including British Defense Minister Grant Shapps, over their support for Israel in its war in the Gaza Strip. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Iran is one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. But restrictions imposed by the United States have largely failed to stymie Iran’s oil exports, the backbone of its flailing economy. […]But China’s willingness to buy record amounts of Iranian oil, Tehran’s mastery of sanctions-evading tactics, and Washington’s reluctance to strictly enforce sanctions have made U.S. measures against Iran’s energy exports ineffective, analysts say. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Brian Hook writes: Mr. Biden has the tools and authority at his disposal to undermine Iran’s projection of power. If he won’t do it, then Congress should force his hand. Restoring deterrence starts with enforcing the existing sanctions with the goal of zero oil exports for the top financier of terrorism in the Middle East. – Wall Street Journal 

Russia & Ukraine

The United States has accused Russia of using chemical weapons, including poison gas, “as a method of warfare” against Ukrainian forces, in violation of a global ban on the use of such weapons. – New York Times

The Russian defence ministry said on Friday that its air defence forces destroyed six drones that Ukraine launched overnight. – Reuters

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron promised three billion pounds ($3.74 billion) of annual military aid for Ukraine for “as long as it takes” on Thursday, adding that London had no objection to the weapons being used inside Russia. – Reuters

The soldiers manning a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer close to the front in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region have seen the enemy advance in recent weeks, slowly but surely, and wish they could do more to stop it. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees domestic and international developments trending in his favor and likely will press on with aggressive tactics in Ukraine, but the war is unlikely to end soon, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday. – Reuters

NATO countries say they are deeply concerned by a campaign of hybrid activities on the military alliance’s soil they attribute to Russia, and which they say constitute a threat to their security. – Associated Press

The situation on the front line in eastern Ukraine is worsening but local defenders are so far holding firm against a concerted push by Russia’s bigger and better-equipped forces, a senior Ukrainian military official said Thursday. – Associated Press

Kyiv’s forces are in a race against time to leverage the American-made long range ATACMS—the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System—against Russian targets in occupied Ukraine, as Moscow’s troops begin again their cycle of adaptation to new weapons. – Newsweek

Russian forces have continued to make steady advances northwest of the captured fortress city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine after breaking through the fortified defensive lines of the Ukrainian forces in the area. – Newsweek

Editorial: The senators warned that passage of the law could lead to a shift in U.S. policy toward sanctions on those interfering with Georgia’s democracy. The Georgian dream should be escaping from Russia’s ruinous grasp, in common cause with a free and prosperous West. This will not happen if the Georgian Dream party gets its way. – Washington Post

Jamie Dettmer writes: But now, he said, there’s no compromise solution to this war. “We have reached a point where you can no longer decide to sit down and negotiate. Why? Because this war isn’t about territory of Ukraine. This is a war about the rules under which you and we will live, and Russia will live. If Russia doesn’t lose, then the rules will be a little different. Autocracy, violence — these will be the dominant forms of foreign policy. If Russia loses, then we get the opportunity to rebuild the global system of political and security relations.” – Politico

Olga Belogolova, Lee Foster, Thomas Rid, and Gavin Wilde write: It fosters a conspiratorial outlook, in which shadowy enemies are supposedly creating wedge issues, dissenters are merely parroting foreign spies, and trust in open democratic debate is eroded. Most important, false claims of clandestine foreign interference absolve U.S. leaders of responsibility for the health of our political discourse. – Foreign Affairs

Jack Watling writes: The U.S. military aid package was passed just in time to stave off a Ukrainian collapse. But to truly shift the direction of the war, it will need to be accompanied by a far more comprehensive strategy to successfully end it. And that must come from Washington, its NATO allies, and Kyiv itself. – Foreign Affairs

Kateryna Odarchenko writes: At the same time, a report by the World Bank found around 15% of firms were unable to fulfill orders due to worker displacement, battlefield casualties, and the draft, rising to 20% in the South. To prevent Ukraine’s economy from becoming dominated by pensioners, people with disabilities, and those in need of social protection, the government in Kyiv must promote its people’s return – for production lines as well as the frontlines. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Turkey stopped all exports and imports to and from Israel as of Thursday, the Turkish trade ministry said, citing “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in the Palestinian territories. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waded into the debate over U.S. college campus protests on Thursday, saying authorities were displaying “cruelty” in clamping down on pro-Palestinian students and academics. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is coming under pressure over his tricky balancing act regarding Israel, with an increasingly popular and vocal opponent calling for the closing of a NATO defense system allegedly used to support the Jewish State. – Bloomberg


The European Union announced Thursday an aid package for Lebanon of 1 billion euros — about $1.06 billion — much of which will go to boost border control to halt the flow of asylum seekers and migrants from the small, crisis-wracked country across the Mediterranean Sea to Cyprus and Italy. – Associated Press

In the six months since October 7, the hospitals in Nahariya, Haifa, and Safed, alongside routine treatments, are preparing for extreme scenarios, which could break out at any moment, as a result of an escalation of tensions along Israel’s northern border. – Jerusalem Post

Oren Barak writes: If Israel and Lebanon decide to settle the political disputes between them in a peaceful manner, with a little help from their American (and other Western and Middle Eastern) counterparts, then another bloody and devastating chapter in their mutual relations might be averted and stability could return to their shared border, to the benefit of both states and their peoples, and of the region as a whole. – War on the Rocks


Hamas plans to send a delegation to Cairo “as soon as possible” to continue cease-fire talks to end the war in Gaza, the group’s political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, said Thursday. – Washington Post

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh discussed the ongoing Gaza ceasefire talks in separate phone calls with Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. – Reuters

The Palestinian Embassy in Egypt is seeking temporary residency permits for tens of thousands of people who have arrived from Gaza during the war between Israel and Hamas, which it says would ease conditions for them until the conflict is over. – Reuters

Egypt is trying to convince Hamas that if hostages are released as part of a deal with Israel, it will have no pretext for resuming the fighting in Gaza, according to Arab diplomats who spoke to Haaretz. – Haaretz

Middle East & North Africa

The Pentagon is shifting jet fighters, armed drones and other aircraft to Qatar, repositioning its forces to get around restrictions on conducting airstrikes from an air base long used by the U.S. in the United Arab Emirates. – Wall Street Journal

A U.S. drone strike in Syria last year killed a 56-year-old shepherd after confusing him for a terrorist leader, an internal investigation concluded, underscoring the Pentagon’s persistent struggle to avoid unintentional casualties despite the Biden administration’s pledge to curb such incidents. – Washington Post

Palestinians may be gratified to see American university campuses erupt in outrage over Israel’s offensive in Gaza, but some in the embattled enclave are also wondering why no similar protests have hit the Arab countries they long viewed as allies. – Reuters

The success of ballistic missile defences facing their first complex, high-stakes combat scenarios in Israel, the Red Sea and Ukraine will encourage militaries globally to invest in the pricey systems, experts say – and intensify missile arms races. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia has stepped up the arrest of citizens for social-media posts related to the Israel-Hamas war as the kingdom signals a readiness to agree to diplomatic relations with the Jewish state — if it commits to Palestinian statehood. – Bloomberg

Eight Syrian soldiers were injured in alleged Israeli airstrikes that targeted a building in the Damascus area on Thursday night, the first such strikes reported since several senior commanders in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in early April. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

The Iranian assault on Israel last month is likely to have drawn the keen interest of one world leader in particular: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. The attack—and the overwhelming success of Israel and its allies, including the U.S., to repel it—offers Kim a real-world test case of a clash with Western defenses. – Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s foreign ministry on Thursday raised the terrorism alert level for five diplomatic offices in the region citing intelligence that North Korea may attempt to harm its officials. – Reuters

Russia said on Thursday that Western claims that it was cooperating militarily with North Korea were inaccurate and said its relationship with Pyongyang was neither directed against third countries nor threatening to the security of the region. – Reuters

Editorial: Though the sanctions remain, the panel’s demise makes violations harder to monitor and enforce. America’s most determined enemies—Russia, China, North Korea and Iran—are working together because they know that a defeat for Ukraine helps strengthen their hand against the West. Mr. Putin’s payoff to Mr. Kim is the first of more to come. – Wall Street Journal


Student demonstrations spreading across U.S. campuses have drawn attention in Beijing, where comments by some officials and state media have conveyed sympathy for the protesters and criticism of what is seen as a U.S. double standard on protest crackdowns. – Wall Street Journal

China on Friday will embark on one of its most ambitious space missions yet: the launch of a probe to retrieve samples from the far side of the moon and bring them back to Earth within two months. – Washington Post

China is pursuing plans to develop floating nuclear reactors that could power military facilities it has built in contested areas of the South China Sea, according to the top U.S. military commander in the Pacific and State Department officials, a prospect they warn would undermine regional security and stability. – Washington Post

US intelligence officials assess that Russia and China are working more closely together on military issues, including a potential invasion of Taiwan, prompting new planning across the government to counter a potential scenario in which the countries fight in coordination. – Bloomberg

Following American intelligence reports saying last year that China is vastly underreporting its military budget, new research has crunched numbers and determined the country’s defense spending could rival that of the United States. – Newsweek

Editorial: They blame a hangover from three years of covid restrictions, a reduction in the number of long-haul flights, Western governments issuing travel advisories warning citizens of the risk of arbitrary detention in the city, and negative coverage in the foreign media. They blame everyone but the real culprits: themselves, their shrill rhetoric and their own repressive policies. – Washington Post

Karishma Vaswani writes: None of this is easy. No one wants to blindly walk into a conflict with the world’s second-largest economy. But this is not just a fight between the Philippines and China. So much more is at stake, and it will take the determined efforts of the US and other supportive nations to deter Beijing and its expansionist ambitions. – Bloomberg

Joseph Bosco writes: China’s news service, Xinhua, accused Yellen of ramping up information warfare in preparation for more hostile U.S. economic measures. Blinken’s follow-up visit to Beijing last week was greeted by renewed Chinese hostility — signaling China intends to keep on fighting while negotiating. – The Hill

Tong Zhao writes: Nonetheless, a dialogue-based approach aimed at better understanding each other’s views on what comprises legitimate security interests and approaches would address Beijing’s core concerns and offer the prospect of stabilizing the U.S.-Chinese security relationship. By prioritizing this discussion, Washington could demonstrate its goodwill—and help Beijing recognize that only cooperative measures will soften a U.S. policy of deterrence. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

Security forces were on heightened alert in India’s troubled northeastern state of Manipur on Friday, the first anniversary of the start of clashes between the majority Meitei community and tribal Kukis that have killed at least 220 people. – Reuters

Double land mine blasts killed one person and wounded at least 18 on Thursday in Pakistan’s southwest, a police officer said. – Associated Press 

Jayant Krishna writes: India’s leadership in science and technology will benefit its citizens and its economy, while improving the security environment in the Indo-Pacific. On the other hand, the United States would gain a secure and dependable supply chain partner. The new government in India should leverage these opportunities and shift from rhetoric to more tangible cooperation on the ground. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


For months, President Biden has been under pressure to prove he can be tough at the border. But at a campaign reception on Wednesday night, he also tried to voice his commitment to America’s long history of immigration. – New York Times

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Friday it had detected a renewed incursion by Chinese military aircraft across the sensitive Taiwan Strait, as China reported its navy had carried out combat drills with landing craft. – Reuters

Hundreds of people protesting Israel’s war in Gaza rallied at one of Australia’s top universities on Friday demanding it divest from companies with ties to Israel, in a movement inspired by the student occupations sweeping U.S. campuses. – Reuters

Defense chiefs from the U.S., Australia, Japan and the Philippines vowed to deepen their cooperation as they gathered Thursday in Hawaii for their second-ever joint meeting amid concerns about China’s operations in the South China Sea. – Associated Press

A huge explosion at a military base in southwestern Cambodia that killed 20 soldiers and injured many others was an accident caused by a “technical issue” stemming from the old and degraded ammunition that was being moved, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. – Associated Press

New Zealand is “seriously concerned” by China’s increased interest in the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said. – Bloomberg

The US warned Georgia that it’s risking relations with NATO and the European Union by pressing ahead with a “foreign agent” law that has sparked massive protests. – Bloomberg


Protesters are waving Palestinian flags on American college campuses and in cities around the world to put pressure on Israel to end the war in the Gaza Strip. But there is one place where that symbol will be absent next week: inside the Eurovision Song Contest. – New York Times

France and Japan agreed on Thursday to start formal talks on a reciprocal troop access deal, strengthening military cooperation in amid rising maritime tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and the war in Ukraine. – Reuters

Ukraine, trade and investment are expected to dominate Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first trip to Europe in five years, as the Asian giant rebuilds its foreign relations after a prolonged absence during the Covid-19 pandemic. – Associated Press

Ukraine’s Western backers in NATO and Europe will have to consider committing troops to the war-torn country under two conditions, French President Emmanuel Macron has said, as conflict within the alliance about the possibility of sending troops rumbles on. – Newsweek

Poland has called for the creation of a “heavy brigade” of EU rapid-reaction forces that would be able to respond effectively to crises outside the bloc’s borders, as fears grow of the possibility of Warsaw coming under attack from Moscow in the future. – Newsweek

An Israeli diplomat in the Balkans has set off a firestorm of criticism this week, after telling Russian state media that he did not believe that an infamous 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys constituted a genocide. – Times of Israel

Minxin Pei writes: The best Xi can hope for is to slow the deterioration in ties this year and wait for new opportunities to arise if there is a change in administration in Washington. He’d be wise to adjust his sights — and his promises — accordingly. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: First, Putin would be at very significant risk of being shot by the Russian general staff or otherwise overthrown if he issued such an order. Second, China would very likely abandon Russia in fear of losing all economic relations with Europe and the U.S. if it did not do so. Third, the Russian leader’s much-vaunted new weapon systems aside, he knows Russia would lose a nuclear war with the West. In short, Macron’s leadership is necessary and praiseworthy in constituting a new concern that the Kremlin cannot ignore. – Washington Examiner


Liberian President Joseph Boakai on Thursday signed an executive order to establish a war crimes court meant to bring overdue justice to victims of serious abuses committed during the West African country’s two civil wars. – Reuters

The United States will provide nearly $55 million to address a dire humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso, U.S. aid chief Samantha Power will announce on Thursday, according to a statement seen by Reuters. – Reuters

Russian military personnel have entered an air base in Niger that is hosting U.S. troops, a senior U.S. defense told Reuters, a move that follows a decision by Niger’s junta to expel U.S. forces. – Reuters

Nigeria’s military has ordered two officers to face court martial proceedings over a drone strike that killed at least 85 civilians, the defence HQ said on Thursday, more than four months after President Bola Tinubu ordered an investigation. – Reuters

The Americas

The majority of Haiti’s transition council who had nominated an interim prime minister earlier this week has walked back the decision, exposing the internal turmoil of the group charged with leading the Caribbean nation out of a prolonged crisis. – Reuters

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said on Thursday the encampment at Montreal’s McGill University should be dismantled as more students erected pro-Palestinian camps across some of Canada’s largest universities, demanding they divest from groups with ties to Israel. – Reuters

Gangs in Haiti laid siege to several neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, burning homes and exchanging gunfire with police for hours as hundreds fled the violence early Thursday in one of the biggest attacks since Haiti’s new prime minister was announced. – Associated Press

Mexico’s military splurged well beyond its original budget allotment last year — and most of those funds were used for infrastructure projects. – Bloomberg

Isabel Rowan Scarpino writes: In Venezuela, sectoral sanctions are not just economically ineffective—they are actively hurting the country’s democratic transition and pushing Caracas closer to anti-U.S. adversaries. Thus, there is no reason that they should remain baked into Washington’s Venezuela policy. Sectoral sanctions should not serve the symbolic purpose that individual sanctions perform, both in Venezuela’s case and in the broader landscape of U.S. foreign policy. – Foreign Policy

United States

President Biden’s fragile bid for a second term is under new threat from the powerful combination of two conflicts he has little direct control over: Israel’s war with Hamas and the deepening rift in the U.S. over America’s role in it.  – Wall Street Journal

President Biden broke days of silence on Thursday to finally speak out on the wave of protests on American college campuses against Israel’s war in Gaza that have inflamed much of the country, denouncing violence and antisemitism even as he defended the right to peaceful dissent. – New York Times

Police have arrested nearly 2,200 people during pro-Palestinian protests at college campuses across the United States in recent weeks, sometimes using riot gear, tactical vehicles and flash-bang devices to clear tent encampments and occupied buildings.- Associated Press

Huawei Technologies Co., the Chinese telecommunications giant blacklisted by the US, is secretly funding cutting-edge research at American universities including Harvard through an independent Washington-based foundation. – Bloomberg

Editorial: All of this shows that the spreading protest movement isn’t a political accident. It’s part of a larger strategy of spreading disorder to force colleges and U.S. policy to bend to the left’s will and demands. As events this week at Columbia and UCLA show, trying to appease this law-breaking will encourage more of it. – Wall Street Journal


Russia will face consequences for a cyber attack allegedly orchestrated by a group with ties to its military intelligence, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday.- Reuters

An Israeli private investigator wanted by the United States was arrested in London over allegations that he carried out a cyberespionage campaign on behalf of an unidentified American PR firm, a London court heard on Thursday. – Reuters

Hackers with alleged connections to China are using a malware platform called “Cuttlefish” to target routers and other networking equipment used by organizations in Turkey. – The Record

Powerful and invasive foreign commercial spyware and surveillance products are being procured by or deployed in Indonesia, with the country’s national police and cyber agency among the top recipients or users of the technology. – The Record


The Marine Corps is expecting delivery this summer of two more Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Craft from an Australian manufacturer. – Defense News

Two weeks after the chief of the Pentagon’s communication branch previewed his strategic goals for 2025-2030, the Defense Information Systems Agency has published the full five-year plan, entitled “DISA Next”. – Breaking Defense

Nearly three months ago, the US Army announced a massive aviation overhaul, which led to the cancellation of several programs and the redirection of funds to new priorities. – Breaking Defense

The Army is set to receive additional funding that will allow it to accelerate its Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordnance (LASSO) program, the service’s acquisition chief told reporters Thursday. – DefenseScoop

Lucas Robinson writes: America’s modernization effort is already underway and is estimated to cost around $1.5 trillion over thirty years. It is already plagued by delays and cost overruns. […]Unfortunately, the past shows how anxiety can easily crowd out temperance. If the United States doesn’t calmly consider the costs and risks involved in trying to win today’s nuclear competition, it will find itself running scared straight into a dangerous arms race. – The National Interest