Fdd's overnight brief

May 5, 2023

In The News


Israel’s defense minister claimed Thursday that Iran could have enough enriched uranium for five nuclear weapons, and warned Tehran that proceeding to weapons-grade enrichment could “ignite the region.” – Associated Press

Iran’s president met senior Palestinian officials in Damascus and expressed his country’s support to them Thursday as Tehran and Syria signed a series of agreements. – Associated Press

Chinese customs authorities are stepping up inspection checks on cargoes of heavy crude oil after uncovering several Iranian shipments that were mislabelled as diluted bitumen in an effort to bypass import quotas. – Reuters 

Iran is raising the stakes for oil tanker owners, charterers and, most importantly, crews plying their trade in the waters of the Persian Gulf. – Bloomberg 

Iran could black-mail any American city if it acquires nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a visiting congressional bi-partisan delegation on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post

Documents uncovered by a US-based opposition news outlet appear to show Iran’s interest in massive imports of phosphates from territory it controls in Syria as a source of uranium for its nuclear program. – Times of Israel

Rights organizations and activists say they have joined forces to form the Keep It On coalition to ensure pressure remains on the authorities to stop ongoing human rights violations in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan Province. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Amid spreading strikes by tens of thousands of workers across Iran, truck owners and drivers have announced plans to hold a nationwide open-ended work stoppage. – Iran International

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Claire Jungman of UANI noted that “we have located the tanker NIOVI in the anchorage north of Larak Island, #Iran. ADVANTAGE SWEET remains in the Bandar Abbas anchorage northeast of where NIOVI can be found.” This may be the beginning of a new Iranian naval campaign to increase pressure on the US and shipping. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

Most Western shipping companies stopped moving Russian oil after the U.S. and allies sanctioned Moscow’s prize export. In Greece, home to one of the world’s biggest merchant fleets, tanker owners are doubling down. – Wall Street Journal

But there’s another factor behind the slide: Traders think Moscow hasn’t followed through fully on pledges it made in response to Western sanctions to throttle production. They say Russia keeps pumping and exporting huge volumes of oil to maximize income for its beleaguered economy—crude that has added to a global surplus and undermined Saudi Arabia’s effort to bolster the market. – Wall Street Journal

Democratic and Republican leaders in the House of Representatives condemned Russia’s detention of journalist Evan Gershkovich and businessman Paul Whelan, calling for the prompt release of the two Americans. – Wall Street Journal

A second day of drone attacks inside Russia targeted military logistics hubs in an apparent effort to disrupt Moscow’s battlefield supply lines ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive. – Wall Street Journal

Less than two weeks before Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza was given 25 years in prison on treason charges last month, in the harshest sentence against a Russian opposition activist in years, his longtime lawyer and friend Vadim Prokhorov fled Russia. – Wall Street Journal

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine on Thursday redoubled his call for an independent tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes, using a speech in The Hague to demand accountability and invoking the trials of Nazis in Nuremberg after World War II. – New York Times

The humiliating spectacle for Russia of two drones flying over the walls of the Kremlin, its historic seat of power, has spawned conflicting theories about who did it and why – but for Vladimir Putin the incident could yet prove useful politically. – Reuters

Record high water levels could overwhelm a major dam in southern Ukraine and damage parts of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, a Russian official told Tass agency on Thursday. – Reuters 

Russia is very unlikely to use its nuclear weapons, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday, despite past saber-rattling from the Kremlin and the heavy casualties that Moscow is enduring in its invasion of Ukraine. – Reuters 

Talks on a potential donation of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine are progressing, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday during a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to The Hague, but no decision has been made. – Reuters 

A Ukrainian delegate punched a Russian delegate in the face during a gathering of Black Sea nations in the Turkish capital on Thursday, after his Ukrainian flag was snatched away to stop him photobombing a video interview with Russia’s lead delegate. – Reuters 

Russian authorities demonstrated again Thursday that they are widening their crackdown on dissent by investigating and detaining artists involved in a play staged in Moscow. – Associated Press

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said US spy agencies don’t have enough information to assess Russia’s claim that Ukraine was behind a drone attack it said was aimed at President Vladimir Putin’s residence in the Kremlin. – Bloomberg 

Like a panicked soldier under fire, Russia is shooting in all directions — accusing America for a drone hit that obliterated its flag atop the Kremlin, calling for the assassination of President Zelensky, and, an old favorite, threatening a nuclear attack. – New York Sun

Bernard-Henri Lévy writes: So is Holocaust descendant Volodymyr Zelensky, who on Feb. 24, 2022, had neither tanks nor apparatchiks with which to confront the giant. In the face of Goliath the Philistine and the invasion, he could find nothing to oppose it save for the intelligence of his courage and the power of his strategy. […]If today there is, outside of Israel, a place where the values of Jewish heroism live, it’s Ukraine. – Wall Street Journal 

Andreas Kluth writes: Western security guarantees after the war are another matter. Indeed, they’ll necessarily become one of the main points of peace talks among Kyiv, Moscow and their mediators.  Let’s hope that Ukraine defeats the Russians as soon as possible, so it can take its seat at that negotiating table proud and strong. – Bloomberg 

Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth write: The U.S. needs to enable the HIMARS they provided Ukraine to fire ATACMS, then get them the F16s they need to strike deep targets with precision. […]It is time to turn Putin’s “divisive terrain” in Bakhmut into “decisive terrain” for Kyiv — and the entire Western world. – The Hill  

Michael Horowitz writes: What remains is the humiliating message those two drones sent against the Kremlin and hit their target. Someone, be it Ukrainians or Russian opponents (in my opinion likely the first despite the denials), has been able to bang on Putin’s door and may be able to do so again. When your whole career is based upon the idea of keeping Russia safe and great, having your symbolic center of power hit is a really bad start to your day, and promises more sleepless nights. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Elina Beketova writes: Whatever the method, every program is designed to show children and young people a Russian version of reality. Using Kremlin-backed propaganda, the occupiers seek to impose common enemies on the next generation — Ukraine itself and the countries that make up NATO. Today’s pupils and cadets are tomorrow’s soldiers, and Moscow wants to ensure they are in no doubt on which side they should be fighting. – Center for European Policy Analysis  

Borja Lasheras writes: Thus proposals for a ceasefire, let alone a diplomatic settlement — e.g. like those floated by Brazil’s President Lula — that do not have as a starting point the United Nations Charter, Russian withdrawal, justice for war crimes, and real security guarantees — are not just unrealistic. […]Ukrainians are the first to crave peace — they just know better than anyone else what is best to them and their future. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Israel has seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including two it said were linked to Islamic State and dozens of others it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to the Islamist Hamas group, documents released by the country’s counter-terror authorities show. – Reuters 

An Israeli-designed missile detection system that would give Ukrainians more time to take shelter from Russian missile attacks is being tested in Kyiv and may be activated within two months, Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Omer Easa is watching the violence roiling his native Sudan with deep trepidation. The further Sudan sinks into chaos and violence, he fears, the longer he is likely to remain an unrecognized asylum-seeker in Israel, where he has few protections. Backers of migrants like Easa say their rights will likely come under greater threat if Israel’s government, its most right-wing ever, moves ahead on a contentious plan to overhaul the judiciary. – Associated Press 

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday condemned Israel for launching a military operation in Nablus and killing three Hamas terrorists who were behind the Dee family murders. – Jerusalem Post

France’s National Assembly on Thursday firmly rejected a resolution tabled by a Communist Party MP that denounced Israel as an “apartheid” state and called for the imposition of an arms embargo and other sanctions. – Algemeiner

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke on Thursday at a Washington think tank and said that the US is still working towards a goal of a deal normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. – Arutz Sheva

Thousands of demonstrators protested the government’s judicial legislation in numerous areas of the country on Thursday evening clashing at times with police, counter-demonstrators and ministers. – Ynet

Two days after rocket barrages were fired on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip and penetrated the Iron Dome missile defense system – resulting in Chinese workers being injured, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) published the initial investigation report of the Iron Dome system’s activity which found there was a technical problem with the system on that day. According to the IAF statement on Thursday, the problem was immediately addressed and did not reoccur when dozens of additional rockets were fired from Gaza. – Ynet  

A Palestinian terrorist stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli soldier at the West Bank’s Einabus Junction Thursday noon before being shot dead by Israeli troops. – Ynet 

Michael Starr writes: Ukraine is desperately trying to lobby for Western aircraft and NATO air-defense systems as they attempt to patch up the holes in their air net. Israeli nonlethal aid of an early warning system may be a vital contribution in the war effort. – Jerusalem Post


Syria should soon be able to return to the Arab League but many challenges lie ahead in resolving the country’s more than decade-old conflict, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Friday. – Reuters 

Arab foreign ministers will meet at the Arab League in Cairo on Sunday to discuss Syria, a League spokesman said, amid a regional push to normalise ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a decade of estrangement. – Reuters 

A Russian surface-to-air missile nearly hit an American MQ-9 Reaper drone over Syria in a previously undisclosed incident last November, U.S. Central Command confirmed Thursday. – Military Times


In interviews across Istanbul, many voters expressed similar anxiety about the state of their finances ahead of pivotal presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14 that have caught an uneasy country at a moment of colliding calamities — including stubborn economic hardship and the aftermath of deadly earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people and left large parts of the its south in ruins. – Washington Post

A New York Times investigation found that a developer won zoning approval for the project after donating more than $200,000 to a local soccer club, where the mayor is an honorary president. Then, when residents raised alarms that the blueprints did not match what had been built, they received no satisfying reply from the local government. The building inspector said that, even after the project had failed its inspection, the developers used political influence to get the doors open. – New York Times

Early in his political career, a devastating earthquake and economic troubles helped propel Recep Tayyip Erdogan to power in Turkey. Two decades later, similar circumstances are putting his leadership at risk. – Associated Press

Arabian Peninsula

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Thursday he will travel to Saudi Arabia this weekend for talks with Saudi leaders, as the United States seeks to bolster often-frayed ties with Riyadh. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has cut the price of its June flagship crude to Asian buyers for the first time in four months, following a plunge in refining margins. – Reuters  

Donors pledged an additional $5.6 million Thursday that will enable the United Nations to start transferring more than 1 million barrels of crude oil from a rusting tanker off the coast of war-torn Yemen that poses a major environmental threat, but the U.N. said nearly $24 million is still needed to offload all the oil. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

The US is trying to convince Middle East allies to add dozens more robot vessels around the Arabian Peninsula to better detect threats from countries like Iran, a move to protect waterways vital to global commerce and oil trade. – Bloomberg 

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Thursday at a nomination hearing for the US ambassador to Jordan called for the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi, a Jordanian-Palestinian woman who sits at #4 on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists for her role in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing in Jerusalem. – Algemeiner

Marc Rod writes: As for security aid, Fishman argued that “it’s in our interests to support Jordan” to help ensure stability throughout the region, and that there’s little the U.S. can do at this stage to shift Jordan’s relationship with Israel or bring it into the Abraham Accords without progress on the Palestinian peace process. – Jewish Insider

Garrett M. Graff writes: With the benefit of 20 years of hindsight, CPA Orders 1 and 2 are best thought of not as errors that, if avoided, could have saved Iraq. Instead, they were early indicators that the Bush administration’s grand visions for the country were merely paper wishes, out of touch with the post-invasion reality. The orders’ murky origins were emblematic of a chaotic policymaking process that led to a war that was both needless and poorly planned. In truth, the Iraq war was doomed before the first American soldier crossed the border. – Foreign Affairs 

Sabina Henneberg and Sarah Yerkes write: Without a unified and democratically minded opposition that can mount a large-scale campaign against the incumbent and strong institutions to act as guardrails, no amount of international pressure will be sufficient to reverse Tunisia’s drift. However, international involvement can play a key role in cases of democratization at risk, illustrating why abandoning the country at this critical stage is more likely to lead to further backsliding and instability—a threat to both U.S. and Tunisian interests. – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea is erupting in hysterics over last week’s White House summit between President Biden and South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol. – New York Sun

A US nuclear-armed submarine will make a publicly announced visit to South Korea within months, prompting debate about the wisdom of a heightened public role for what’s long been known as the Navy’s “silent service.” – Bloomberg 

Jihoon Yu writes: With tact and imagination, South Korea can effectively turn the crisis of strategic choice into an opportune step toward its goal of becoming a Global Pivotal State. Leveraging its middle power position, the country should champion a rules-based maritime order characterized by cooperation rather than conflict and confrontation. Thus, the question of South Korea’s position in the South China Sea should no longer be avoided but proactively addressed with imagination and greater naval assertiveness. – The Diplomat


Foreign companies in China are walking a tightrope between their need for business intelligence to comply with proliferating U.S. sanctions and mounting concerns about the risks of carrying out the due diligence required for business on the ground. – Wall Street Journal

As Beijing modernizes its military, its formidable missile forces and other naval vessels, such as cutting-edge cruisers, are posing a concern for the U.S. and its allies. But it could be more than a decade before China can mount a credible carrier threat far from its shores, according to four military attaches and six defence analysts familiar with regional naval deployments. – Reuters 

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang assured his Russian and Indian counterparts of deepening bilateral ties, promising that “coordination and cooperation” will only grow stronger, in a show of solidarity with two of China’s biggest neighbours. – Reuters 

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan could potentially halt production by the world’s largest advanced semiconductor chip maker, wiping out up to $1 trillion per year from the global economy per year in the first few years, the top U.S. intelligence official said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Chinese Ambassador Cong Peiwu on Thursday denied a Beijing official targeted a Canadian lawmaker and his family for his anti-China stance and denounced Ottawa’s statement that it was considering expelling a Chinese diplomat. – Reuters

The Pentagon is seeking a meeting between Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart in Singapore next month, according to people familiar with the matter, as the Biden administration tries again to restart military contacts despite China’s earlier refusal. – Bloomberg 

China and Russia would likely exploit the “opportunity” a U.S. government debt default would present, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned Thursday. – The Hill  

David Ignatius writes: A better strategy, toward which the administration seems to be leaning, is to acknowledge Beijing’s role but insist it must act responsibly to be treated as a great power. China could start by encouraging a just peace in Ukraine. – Washington Post

Robert C. O’Brien and Arthur Herman write: Congress can play a crucial role in changing this perception by investigating and exposing Chinese wrongdoing and legislating to stop it. In a time of significant political polarization in the United States, it is heartening that a bipartisan consensus has formed around the need to secure the country and protect the American way of life from the CCP. – Foreign Affairs 

Neil Shearing writes: In addition, any currency that did have these characteristics would have to overcome the strong network effects that underpin the dollar’s global dominance. […]All of this is likely to work against the emergence of a renminbi on a scale that threatens the dollar’s position. Wind the clock forward 10 years and the most likely outcome is a more fragmented global financial system – but one that still has the US dollar at its core. – Center for European Policy Analysis   

South Asia

India’s foreign minister held talks Thursday with counterparts from China and Russia ahead of a meeting of a Central Asian security forum. – Associated Press

Isolated and under economic sanctions, Taliban officials in Afghanistan have once again announced a ban on poppy cultivation, use, and trafficking. – Agence France-Presse

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing to discuss Pakistan’s budget plans for the coming financial year as part of a process to unlock a crucial financing injection for the cash-strapped nation, the IMF’s country mission chief said. – Reuters 

Foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation gathered in India on Thursday to discuss regional security matters, including adding Iran and Belarus to a union of nations seen as a counterweight to Western influence in Eurasia. – Reuters 

Islamist militants killed six Pakistani soldiers in an exchange of fire with the military in a northwestern tribal district bordering Afghanistan, the army said on Thursday. – Reuters 

India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSE.NS) said on Thursday that it has completed the sale of its port in sanction-hit Myanmar for $30 million, significantly lower than its investment in the project. – Reuters 

The Afghan people are in for a “very difficult year ahead,” warned the top U.S. aid official, as donors grapple with challenging a Taliban administration crackdown on women and girls, more crises around the world and overall less funding. – Reuters 

Bhutan, the highest country in the world, is carefully managing relationships with giant neighbors India and China even as the carbon-negative kingdom tries to cope with the challenges of climate change resulting from emissions elsewhere, Prime Minister Lotay Tshering told Newsweek in an exclusive interview. – Newsweek

India and Russia are formalizing a plan for the local production of Russian defense equipment and spare parts following a meeting between their defense ministers. – Defense News



Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Thursday that granting U.S. access to Philippine military bases was a defensive step that would be “useful” if China attacked Taiwan. – Reuters 

Indonesia has for months been quietly engaging key stakeholders in Myanmar’s conflict, as well as neighbours India, Thailand and China in an effort to kick-start a peace process as violence intensifies, its foreign minister said on Friday. – Reuters 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday he was frustrated for not yet finding a diplomatic fix over the continued detention of Julian Assange and that he remained concerned about the mental health of the WikiLeaks’ founder. – Reuters 

Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday that the delivery of 66 advanced new F-16Vs from the United States has been delayed due to supply chain disruptions and the ministry was working to minimise the damage and “make up deficiencies”. – Reuters 

Kazakhstan Railways will ban transportation of oil products to the Russian Black Sea port of Taman starting from May 8, according to a document from the state-owned railway operator seen by Reuters on Thursday. – Reuters 

Australia’s exports to China surged to record highs in March as the Asian giant sucked in more iron for its steel industry and lowered barriers to thermal coal shipments amid thawing diplomatic relations. – Reuters 

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday he hoped to see closer ties between Japan and Africa as he seeks to win over the “Global South” ahead of a Group of Seven (G7) summit he will host later this month. – Reuters 

Britain’s free trade agreements with New Zealand and Australia will come into force by the end of this month, the leaders from the three nations said Friday. – Associated Press

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Friday he would declare his allegiance to King Charles III at the monarch’s coronation despite believing that Australia should have its own head of state. – Associated Press

A peace deal to end Armenia and Azerbaijan’s three-decade-old dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave is “within reach” after four days of talks in Washington, US top diplomat Antony Blinken said Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Taiwan will treat Chinese drone or jet incursions into its airspace as a “first strike,” its defense chief said, amid rising concerns over Beijing’s strategy of flying unmanned surveillance craft around the island.  – Bloomberg 

New Zealand’s military has tested some of its beach-landing equipment in an overseas environment for the first time — a type of exercise one officer admitted hasn’t happened for a while amid recruitment woes and the pandemic. – Defense News

Michael Rubin writes: Diplomacy only works when all parties are sincere. Aliyev has repeatedly shown himself not to be: He violated three ceasefires during the 2020 war, and has systematically sought to uproot and ethnically cleanse the region’s Armenian population since. If Blinken and Sullivan are serious about peace and ending an illegal blockade, it is time to do much, much more. – American Enterprise Institute 

Gregory B. Poling, Monica Sato and Jared Tupuola write: This is just a sampling of the myriad public and private sector announcements made during President Marcos’s visit to Washington. Taken together, they signal two things: the rapid modernization of the U.S.-Philippines alliance is not slowing down, and Washington understands that economic and people-to-people benefits are necessary to make the defense of the alliance more sustainable. – Center for Strategic and  International Studies 


A gunman was on the loose on Friday after killing eight people and wounding 13 others near Belgrade, local media reported, the second deadly mass shooting around the Serbian capital in two days. – Reuters 

Italy is highly unlikely to renew its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal with China, which expires early next year, but needs time to discuss the issue with Beijing, a senior government official said. – Reuters

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called off a trip to Paris on Thursday, saying the French interior minister had offended Italy and its Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni with unacceptable “insults”. – Reuters  

Belgian police have arrested seven people on suspicion of preparing a terrorist attack, the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Polish government has approved draft legislation that would allow the military to sink an enemy ship targeting a key gas pipeline from Norway via the Baltic Sea following NATO’s warning that Russia might sabotage undersea energy infrastructure. – Reuters 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Thursday gave his full backing to Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s peace plan aimed at reaching a cease-fire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla organization. – Associated Press

The European Union is discussing a new sanctions mechanism to target third countries it believes aren’t doing enough to prevent Russia from evading sanctions, particularly those that can’t explain spikes in trade of key goods or technologies, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz threw his weight behind calls for the African Union to become a permanent member of the Group of 20 to give it more say in efforts to tackle global issues like climate change. – Bloomberg 

Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence has unveiled plans to spend some €3.1 billion ($3.4 billion) to buy ammunition and explosives in the coming decade, citing lessons drawn from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. – Defense News

The German Navy will deploy a frigate and a combat support ship to the Indo-Pacific in 2024, German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Jan Christian Kaack announced at the International Maritime Security Conference (IMSC) 2023 Thursday. – USNI News

Editorial: The U.K. may fear a diplomatic incident if it excludes senior Chinese officials from the coronation. But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak or the palace could at least include some of the Hong Kongers who have taken refuge in the U.K. That would embarrass Mr. Han in the same way Mr. Han’s presence is embarrassing King Charles. – Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Buchanan writes: Against the backdrop of the shattering of European peace, Russia’s next steps in the Arctic could very well sink indefinitely the notion of “high north, low tension.” This specific Arctic saga has no clear end point, and this also underscores the complexities of international law in action: Russia is at once a rule-breaker in one theater and rule-abiding and rule-centric (for now) in another. Navigating this duality will require agile diplomatic abilities and at least a baseline of circumpolar dialogue. Let’s hope that Moscow plans to pick up the phone. – War on the Rocks 

Jasmin Mujanović writes: Even so, that will be cold comfort to those vulnerable regional populaces now left at the mercy of nationalist governments in Serbia and Croatia and all the historical and political memory that comes with their renewed primacy. As so often before in the Western Balkans, the grand ideological promises of our age—in this case, the hope of a categorical, normative commitment by the political West to the defense of democracy and the right of small nations to be free—have turned to ash. One must only travel less than 1,000 miles southwest of Bucha, Ukraine, to find the United States wheeling and dealing with known Russian proxies in the name of hollow and cruel stability. – Foreign Policy


The order, published Thursday, expanded the scope of the U.S. sanctions regime against the East African nation to allow the U.S. Treasury Department and the State Department to blacklist people and entities involved in activities that threaten the peace, security and stability of Sudan. – Wall Street Journal

South African officials allowed a cargo plane targeted by U.S. sanctions for supporting Russia’s military efforts to land at an air force base near the capital, Pretoria, last week, a move that could further increase tensions with the United States. – New York Times

An attack by unidentified armed persons in the north of the small West African nation of Benin has killed “about 15 people,” according to the government’s spokesperson. – Associated Press

Burkina Faso’s interim President Ibrahim Traore on Thursday said Russia had become a key strategic ally but denied that Russian mercenaries were supporting Burkinabe forces in their fight against Islamist armed groups. – Reuters 

While wealthy countries like the United States and Britain sent planes to evacuate their nationals from an airfield near Khartoum, many Africans and other foreigners from less resourced countries struggled to find a way out. – Reuters 

The World Food Programme (WFP) has estimated that $13 million to $14 million worth of food products destined to people in need in Sudan have been looted since fighting broke out last month, the WFP said on Thursday. – Reuters  

Bobby Ghosh writes: Wagner’s appalling atrocities in Ukraine have earned it such a designation. Imposing it would undermine the argument of its African clients that Wagner is a counterterrorism force, and allow the imposition of stiff sanctions against those who engage its services. Making Putin’s attack dog a pariah is the first step toward bringing him to heel. – Bloomberg 

Narayanappa Janardhan and Husain Haqqani write: African countries are more than bit players or spheres of influence. In an increasingly multipolar world, the United States would do better to create a balance of interests mechanism in Africa, working alongside expanding Gulf-Asia-Africa ties. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

The purpose of the confab, held in a square named for an enslaved Jamaican who was executed for leading a 19th-century revolt that ultimately helped spur the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, was not to celebrate Charles, who is also King of Jamaica — but to detail the government’s plans to abolish the monarchy and become a republic. – Washington Post

Sons of former Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman denied U.S. allegations that they were major traffickers flooding the United States with synthetic opioid fentanyl, addressing the claims against them in a rare letter. – Reuters 

Canada’s foreign minister said Thursday the country is considering the expulsion of Chinese diplomats over an intelligence agency report saying one of them plotted to intimidate the Hong Kong relatives of a Canadian lawmaker. – Associated Press

Jack Mageau writes: It’s time to be realistic. Canada is unlikely to develop the all-around conventional capabilities to significantly add to NATO and allied deterrence efforts. Instead, Canada should focus its defense spending and security efforts on key areas that are force multipliers, require little in the way of major infrastructure spending, and where Canada already possesses strong capabilities: cyber security, special forces operations, and energy security. – War on the Rocks 

Latin America

Colombia’s migration agency has temporarily suspended a program to return Colombian nationals found by immigration officers at the U.S. border with Mexico, it said on Thursday, citing cruel and degrading treatment and last-minute flight cancellations. – Reuters 

More than half of the 22 oil tankers in Venezuela’s fleet are so run down that they should be immediately repaired or taken out of service, according to an internal report from state-run oil company PDVSA that was shared exclusively with Reuters. – Reuters 

Argentina is seeking new easing of targets in its $44 billion deal with the International Monetary Fund and faster payouts, and is pushing to get key IMF members the United States and Brazil to support it, government officials said. – Reuters 



The Biden administration is confronting the rapidly expanding use of artificial intelligence, warning of the dangers the technology poses to public safety, privacy and democracy while having limited authority to regulate it.  – Wall Street Journal

Former Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan avoided prison Thursday as he was sentenced for covering up the 2016 theft of company data on 50 million Uber customers while the company was being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission over a previous breach. – Washington Post

Sarah Powazek and Marc Rogers write: Local organizations like academic institutions, regional governments and groups of volunteers are among those best-positioned to serve their communities’ cyberdefense needs; they have the trust and drive to alleviate burdens for critical local organizations. Only by prioritizing collaboration with local institutions and harmonizing strategies among government agencies can we move the needle on cyberdefense for all. – CyberScoop



President Biden is expected to nominate Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding Army Gen. Mark Milley and becoming the second Black general in the post, according to U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

The carrier USS George Washington will shift homeports in 2024, replacing the USS Ronald Reagan in Yokosuka, Japan. – Military.com

John Hannah, Joseph Guastella, and David Mann write: For 20 years, U.S. administrations have failed to advance Middle East IAMD. New dynamics have created the best opportunity in a generation for progress. But realizing it likely depends on Biden’s readiness to move the issue higher on his already-crowded list of national security priorities. – Defense News 

Gary Anderson writes: It is entirely possible that, even without adequate military support from the United States, a Ukrainian spring offensive might crack the already shaky morale of the Russian Army and result in a rout. However, if the Ukrainians run out of ammunition and a quagmire results, the fault will rest squarely on Biden’s shoulders during an election year. The Russians will never see the Americans as honest brokers in any negotiation, so if our president is angling for a Nobel Peace Prize, he should look elsewhere. – Military.com

Mackenzie Eaglen and Dustin Walker write: With America’s creditworthiness and fiscal stability on the line, the stakes could not be higher in negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and pass appropriations. But lawmakers must not forget that America’s security is on the line, too, and that America’s military-service members will disproportionately bear the consequences of any budget deal or lack thereof. May they act accordingly and worthy of the service of those in uniform. – National Review