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Monday, May 10, 2021

What's Going On In The World Today 210510





Back to the Future: Getting Special Forces Ready for Great-Power Competition

Have the U.S. Army Special Forces (commonly known as Green Berets) lost the language skills and deep cultural understanding that made them “special,” and enabled them to work closely with indigenous forces? Not only have advanced  language capabilities and cultural knowledge atrophied, but these are precisely the skills necessary — along with specialized equipment for covert resupply and communications — for effectively competing with great-power rivals below the threshold of open, armed conflict.

Special Forces was established in June 1952 to fulfill a unique role. Unlike many of its brethren in the larger special operations forces community — which encompasses Army Special Forces as well as other special operations forces like Navy SEALS and Air Force Combat Controllers — which are focused on direct action missions, Special Forces was specifically designed to enable indigenous resistance in areas behind enemy lines. Since 9/11, however, the size and organization of special operations forces within U.S. Special Operations Command has undergone a transformation. One of the changes was the shift in focus of Special Forces from enabling indigenous forces to direct action missions. Training has increasingly emphasized skills from scuba diving to high altitude, low opening parachute insertions to support this direct action role. Certainly the majority of the Special Forces deployment schedule is still built around its core foreign internal defense mission, but even here, much foreign internal defense training is conducted with foreign commando units and focused on “high speed” direct action capabilities…

How the U.S. Will Ease Its Arab Allies’ Fears of Iran Talks

As it ramps up outreach to Iran, the United States will reassure its traditional Arab Gulf allies that their national security concerns are still being considered via continued diplomatic efforts and military cooperation. Over the next week, a team of U.S. Pentagon and State Department officials is to visit Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. The delegation will be headed by the Biden administration’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk, with the objective of de-escalating tensions in the region and addressing concerns about U.S. President Joe Biden’s push to re-join the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

  • On April 27, U.S. Representative for Iran Robert Malley also held a video conference with U.S. partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to discuss the Iran nuclear deal before he headed back to Vienna for further talks with the JCPOA commission. 

U.S. regional partners are wary of the Biden administration sidelining their national security concerns and objectives as the White House’s nuclear talks with Iran progress, creating a difficult balancing act for Washington…  


Why the United States Needs an Independent Cyber Force

Cyber is now the oxygen upon which the U.S. military depends for almost literally every element of its vast warfighting capabilities. No military service today can function without reliable, resilient cyber capabilities for everything from command and control, to intelligence analysis, to the routine functioning of every weapon system from tanks and ships to aircraft and satellites. Take away that oxygen, disrupt its availability, or sow mistrust in its integrity, and the whole global system of U.S. military power may catastrophically malfunction, if not collapse. What is more, almost every element of government, business, and civil society today also depends on cyberspace to enable every imaginable function. Disrupt cyberspace, and our entire society risks a plunge into chaos. 

Yet despite this existential reliance by both American society and the U.S. military, the nation’s cyber defense, deterrence, and offense capabilities today are fragmented and disjointed. While the Department of Defense cannot and should not take ownership of every aspect of this ubiquitous challenge that spans the public and private sector alike, it must bring new focus, capacity, and transformative change to effectively address the military dimensions of this challenge. To do so, it needs to establish the U.S. Cyber Force as a new military service.


Two recent reports highlight the alarming perils facing the nation from the cyber domain. In March 2020, the Congressionally mandated Cyber Solarium Commission framed its final report by arguing “the status quo is not getting the job done. The status quo is inviting attacks on Americans every second of the day. The status quo is a slow surrender of American power and responsibility.” And this past March, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence concluded that “America is not prepared to defend or compete” in the era of artificial intelligence, and that the country “will not be able to defend against AI-enabled threats without ubiquitous AI capabilities and new warfighting paradigms.” Taken together, these two bipartisan efforts sound urgent alarm bells about the ability of the United States to defend itself against the burgeoning dangers in the virtual world, which threaten to undermine traditional U.S. deterrence and military dominance.

U.S. Naval Update Map: May 6, 2021 

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs), based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance over the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier and includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.

Carrier Strike Groups

  • CVN 69: The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower is underway in the Arabian Sea.
  • CVN 71: The USS Theodore Roosevelt is in the Gulf of Alaska for exercise Northern Edge.

Amphibious Ready Groups/Marine Expedition Units

  • LHA 7: The USS Tripoli is underway in the Pacific Ocean.
    LHD 7: The USS Iwo Jima is in the Outer Moray Firth off the northeast coast of Scotland.
    LHD 8: The USS Makin Island is in the Gulf of Alaska for exercise Northern Edge.





U.S.: Manufacturing PMI Shows Supply Constraints 

What Happened: The Institute of Supply Management on May 3 announced its manufacturing purchasing managers' index for April remained strong at 60.7, but fell by 4.0 points in March from its highest level in 37 years. Supply chain bottlenecks reportedly are restraining output.  

Why It Matters: U.S. manufacturing continues to expand, but shortages of inputs and labor are beginning to restrain momentum with higher prices, a consequence of demand running ahead of supply. As demand outstrips supply, companies are exercising pricing power and raising prices contrary to the Fed's assertion that sufficient economic slack exists to restrain price level increases and inflation will be transitory.  

Strategic Context: Tight supply conditions may last through 2021. The Q1 U.S. GDP report showed a drawdown in inventories, with companies reporting limited parts and materials and worker absenteeism. The personal consumption expenditures index increased by 2.3% (y-o-y) in Q1, a one percentage point increase from Q4, with the core PCE up by 1.8%. 

Ghost guns, Nazi paraphernalia, nearly $1 million of meth seized in Pennsylvania raid


Pennsylvania authorities announced charges against a couple last week after they found almost $1 million of methamphetamine, six ghost guns and Nazi paraphernalia in their home during a raid. ... So-called ghost guns are homemade firearms often made from parts bought online, which do not have traceable serial numbers. They have recently been the subject of executive actions by President Joe Biden to curb their use through federal regulation. ... Both suspects, who are convicted felons, were charged with two dozen drug and firearms counts, Shapiro's office said…


Nashville cops release bodycam, 911 calls of fatal police shooting


Newly released bodycam footage and 911 audio recordings capture the lead up to the police shooting death of an armed and mentally ill homeless man in Nashville Saturday. Jacob Griffin, 23, was shot at a homeless encampment behind a local Goodwill store in the Tennessee city after police negotiators tried for nearly five hours to get him to drop his weapon and surrender, according to a videotaped briefing released Sunday by the Metro Nashville Police Department…


Suspect shot in standoff outside CIA headquarters has died, FBI says


The suspect who was shot and wounded by law enforcement in a standoff just outside CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, on Monday has died, the FBI said. The suspect, whose name has not been released, died after being transported to a hospital.... Additional details were not provided. The suspect initially drove up to the CIA's gates late Monday morning and made statements suggesting there was a bomb in their vehicle, according to a law enforcement official and another source familiar with the incident, touching off an hours-long standoff…




Eritrea’s Isaias meets Sudanese leaders amid Ethiopia tensions


Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki is in Khartoum for talks with Sudanese officials, in a two- day visit taking place amid tensions between the governments of Ethiopia, a close ally of the Eritrean leader, and Sudan.... The two leaders then began closed talks on cooperation and ways to strengthen ties between their countries, according to a statement from the council…


Libya's top diplomat urges withdrawal of foreign fighters


Libya's top diplomat Monday called for the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from the North African country as it heads toward elections later this year. Najla al-Manqoush, foreign minister of Libya's interim government, urged Turkey to implement U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding the repatriation of more than 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya. ... The remarks were seen as a rebuke to Turkey, which has deployed troops and Syrian mercenaries to fight along with Tripoli militias since forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter launched their attack on the capital in 2019…


Libya crisis: The unity government's success hides serious dangers ahead 

Following Libya news in recent weeks has been inspiring. The message of positivity from the new unity government has offered a refreshing change from the country’s typical fare. Watching European ambassadors jovially posing for pictures at the swearing-in ceremony on 15 March, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that this is the same Libya that was recently embroiled in a war so messy that it dragged in around a dozen other countries.

While the latest news from Libya is as uplifting as it is remarkable, Europeans should be cautious of getting swept away in the moment. After a decade of dysfunction, corruption and subversion, Libya’s joy today is likely masking something malicious tomorrow.

Since February, when a UN-driven process produced a new prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, things have moved quickly - and surprisingly smoothly - for Libya. After the curmudgeonly parliament speaker, Aguila Saleh Issa, threatened to block approving this government, he was spirited away to Egypt on the weekend before the approval process took place… 




Australia Draws a Line on China

Canberra’s had enough of trade embargoes and Chinese grievances—and is ready to draw a line. 

Australian defense officials and politicians alike are striking an increasingly hawkish tone on China. This week, it was revealed that a former top general warned his troops last year of the “high likelihood” of war with China. This comes just days after Australian Defense MinisterPeter Dutton raised eyebrows with his assessment that Chinese bullying of Taiwan could lead to a regional conflict. 

Canberra’s more muscular posture, coupled with an increase in defense spending even amid the pandemic, spells an unusually confrontational approach toward China for a country that once tried to balance its economic relations with its largest trading partner against its decades-old defense commitments to the United States. Washington is repaying Canberra’s efforts, redoubling diplomatic and military engagement with Australian counterparts to jointly plan any response to Chinese aggression toward Taiwan…  

Vietnam Protests Renewal of China’s Fishing Ban in South China Sea


The Vietnamese government denounced Thursday China’s annual, unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, which begins May 1. “Vietnam opposes and resolutely rejects China's unilateral decision,” ... He said it violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Paracel Islands, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea agreed by the Southeast Asian bloc in 2003. Viet added it “violates the Vietnam- China agreement on the basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues.”


Taiwan's new coast guard flagship to counter China's 'grey-zone' threat


Taiwan commissioned into service a new coast guard flagship on Thursday to help counter China's "grey zone" war tactics against the island. Taiwan's civilian-run coast guard, which would operate as a branch of the navy during wartime, is often involved in confrontations with Chinese fishing and sand-dredging ships which Taiwan says operate illegally in its waters. Chinese-claimed Taiwan has termed these as "grey zone" tactics designed to subdue the island, seeking to wear Taiwan with repeated drills and activities in or near its airspace and waters…




The U.K. Still Knows How to Punch Above Its Weight 

The recent defense review lays out how to be a midsize power in a superpower world.

With the recent publication of the United Kingdom’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, a country that lost an empire may finally have found a role. That matters not just in a post-Brexit Britain looking for direction but for a world in which the U.K. still matters. Though no superpower, the U.K. remains a significant player on the geopolitical chessboard, with sustained medium- to long-term capabilities that can alter global dynamics. The shift in defense stance and offensive focus that this review signals will do just that.

After World War II, the U.K. settled into a path of managed decline on the global stage as it slowly withdrew from an empire it could no longer afford. Part of the process was the conscious effort to become a trusty lieutenant to the then-unquestioned Western superpower, the United States, while aiming its dwindling capacities at defending against the potential ambitions of the Soviet Union in continental Europe and ditching expensive imperial possessions. Consequently, the defense posture of the country for the past half-century has been largely aimed at large-scale land battles in Europe against the national armies of Warsaw Pact countries…


Royal Navy’s Most Powerful Surface Vessel To Set Sail As Flagship Of Carrier Strike Group

The UK Carrier Strike Group’s globe-spanning maiden deployment will feature visits to India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will announce.

Mr Wallace will set out to Parliament the formidable size of the UK Carrier Strike Group, which will be led by new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

On a 28-week deployment spanning 26,000 nautical miles, the Carrier Strike Group will conduct engagements with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and India as part of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region. Units from the Carrier Strike Group are expected to visit more than 40 countries and undertake over 70 engagements…

Germany bans Islamic group Ansaar over terrorism financing suspicions


Germany said on Wednesday it was banning Ansaar International, an Islamic organisation which Berlin says has financed terrorism around the world, and police raided affiliates of the group. “If you want to fight terror you have to dry up its sources of funding,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Twitter. Ansaar says on its website it provides humanitarian aid to people affected by war and crises by building or financing the construction of hospitals, orphanages and schools. Seehofer said Ansaar and an affiliated organisation “spread a Salafist world view and finance terror around the world under the guise of humanitarian aid.”


Germany: Right-wing criminality at a record high


Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer presented the official statistics for politically motivated crimes committed in 2020 on Tuesday. The minister expressed concerns over increasing incidences of politically motivated crimes, especially those carried out by right-wing extremists, such as the murder of 11 young people with immigrant heritage in the city of Hanau in February last year. "Politically motivated crimes are increasing significantly," Seehofer said, adding that 8.5% more cases were recorded in 2020 over the previous year. The data is very "concerning" because it represents a dangerous trend, despite only representing around 1% of all crimes, he added…


France planning to allow use of algorithms to detect extremism online


The French government is planning to harden counter-terrorism laws, permitting the use of algorithms to detect online extremist activity, amid a growing political row over security in the run up to next year’s presidential race. The president, Emmanuel Macron, is under pressure over a spate of recent terror attacks, often committed by isolated young men armed with knives and unknown to the security services. ... The interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said attackers were now “isolated individuals, increasingly younger, unknown to intelligence services, and often without any links to established Islamist groups”. This was a growing problem for France because they self-radicalised very quickly, within days or weeks…








Bomb explodes near a school in western Afghanistan


A bomb exploded near a school in Farah, in western Afghanistan on Monday and wounded 21 people. At least 10 of those injured were students as young as 7, a provincial official said. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban are active in the area, according to the Associated Press…


Thousands of Afghans flee as fighting erupts after US troop withdrawal begins


Thousands of Afghans have fled their homes in Helmand province as fierce fighting between government forces and the Taliban erupted after the US military began withdrawing its remaining troops. Afghan forces pushed back a string of insurgent attacks on checkpoints across the southern province, where the US military on Sunday handed over a base to government forces as part of its formal pullout that began on 1 May. About 1,000 families have fled their homes to escape the fighting that erupted on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, and some other parts of the province, said Sayed Mohammad Ramin, the region’s director for refugees. He said the families had taken refuge in Lashkar Gah and had come from areas where fighting was intense in the past two days…


Taliban launches major Afghan offensive after deadline for U.S. pullout


Afghan security forces fought back a major Taliban offensive in southern Helmand province in the last 24 hours, officials and residents said on Tuesday, as militants launched assaults around the country after a missed U.S. deadline to withdraw troops. Although the United States did not meet the May 1 withdrawal deadline agreed in talks with the Taliban last year, its pull-out has begun, with President Joe Biden announcing all troops will be out by Sept. 11. Critics of the decision to withdraw say the Islamist militants will try to sweep back into power…


Taliban Uses ‘Innovative Strategy’ To Sneak Into Afghan Military Camp; Ambushes 20 Soldiers


At least 20 Afghan soldiers were killed in a major Taliban attack on a military station in Afghanistan’s western Farah province bordering Iran, local officials confirmed on Monday. The onslaught was staged by the Taliban on Sunday evening in the restive Bala Bulok district, members of the provincial council said. Dad Ullah, a council member, said the Taliban set fire to the military station after killing the soldiers stationed there. Local Salam Afghanistan radio quoted a number of other local officials saying that the insurgents dug a tunnel up to this military facility to sneak in and kill the security forces in the night.




China Is Building Entire Villages in Another Country’s Territory

Since 2015, a previously unnoticed network of roads, buildings, and military outposts has been constructed deep in a sacred valley in Bhutan.

Robert BarnettMay 7, 2021, 4:02 PM


Foreign Policy illustration/Google Earth image of northern Bhutan

In October 2015, China announced that a new village, called Gyalaphug in Tibetan or Jieluobu in Chinese, had been established in the south of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). In April 2020, the Communist Party secretary of the TAR, Wu Yingjie, traveled across two passes, both more than 14,000 feet high, on his way to visit the new village. There he told the residents—all of them Tibetans—to “put down roots like Kalsang flowers in the borderland of snows” and to “raise the bright five-star red flag high.” Film of the visit was broadcast on local TV channels and plastered on the front pages of Tibetan newspapers. It was not reported outside China: Hundreds of new villages are being built in Tibet, and this one seemed no different.

Gyalaphug is, however, different: It is in Bhutan. Wu and a retinue of officials, police, and journalists had crossed an international border. They were in a 232-square-mile area claimed by China since the early 1980s but internationally understood as part of Lhuntse district in northern Bhutan. The Chinese officials were visiting to celebrate their success, unnoticed by the world, in planting settlers, security personnel, and military infrastructure within territory internationally and historically understood to be Bhutanese...




China Deploys The Largest Amphibious Assault Ship In The South China Sea 

China has expanded its naval fleet with the entry of a new advanced amphibious assault ship called Hainan. The type 075 vessel has been deployed in the South China Sea in the command of the Southern Theatre. The newly commissioned ship has the ability to carry 30 helicopters and hundreds of people. 

The ship is likely to make the neighbouring countries anxious over china’s growing influence in the area. This is the first 075 vessel inducted by the Chinese navy. The vessel is likely to be used in Taiwan which is the primary concern amongst the neighbouring nations

…Along with Hainan 2 other naval ships, the Dalian Type 055 destroyer, the Long March-18, a nuclear submarine have been inducted. These vessels have the ability to fire JL-1 and JL-2 giant ballistic missiles…




Iran seeks tech in Sweden for nuclear weapons - Swedish intel. Report


Sweden’s Security Service disclosed in its 2020 intelligence report that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks Swedish technology for its nuclear weapons program, The Jerusalem Post can reveal. Iran, China and Russia are Sweden’s biggest security threats, according to the report…


Iranian Baha'is Told To Bury Loved Ones Atop Mass Graves Of Political Prisoners


Long persecuted by Iran's Islamic regime, followers of the Baha'i faith in Tehran have now been told they must bury their dead upon the mass graves of political prisoners. The Baha'i community in the Iranian capital has for years buried its dead in a special section of Tehran's Khavaran cemetery, near the resting place for hundreds or even thousands of political prisoners who were victims of mass executions in the late 1980s. Cemetery officials have in recent days reportedly told Baha'is that they are no longer allowed to bury their dead in that section of the cemetery. Instead, they have been given two choices: they can bury their dead in the narrow space between existing Baha'i graves or use the area where the mass graves are located....


US denies Iran claims of prisoner deal; UK plays it down


The United States and Iran are in active talks over the release of prisoners, a person familiar with the discussions said Sunday as Washington denied a report by Iranian state-run television that deals had been struck. Prisoner swaps between the U.S. and Iran are not uncommon and both countries in recent years have routinely sought the release of detainees. But any movement between the two countries is particularly sensitive as the Biden administration looks to restart nuclear talks. A 2015 atomic accord between the nations included prisoner exchanges...




Iraqi authorities blame Daesh/ISIS terror group for attacks


At least eight security forces were killed and 12 others injured in attacks in Iraq’s northern Kirkuk province on Saturday, according to a Kurdish security officer. Captain Serdar Mohamed said suspected Daesh/ISIS militants attacked several security checkpoints on the outskirts of Kirkuk. “Seven Kurdish Peshmerga personnel were killed and 10 others injured in the attacks,” he told Anadolu Agency. An Iraqi policeman was also killed and two others were injured in another attack by suspected Daesh/ISIS terrorists on a federal police checkpoint in southern Kirkuk, according to a local police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity…


Iraq: Explosion reported in Kirkuk April 29


A suicide bombing occurred outside the National Security Directorate in Kirkuk, the morning of April 29, injuring at least two people. Reports indicate that the perpetrator attempted to enter the building, prompting the guards to open fire, following which the bomber detonated the explosives prematurely. Emergency personnel have arrived at the scene and are investigating the incident. Authorities will maintain increased security in the area as investigations continue. Localized transport disruptions are likely near the affected area at least through the afternoon ....


11 Daesh/ISIS terrorists caught in Iraq


Iraqi security forces nabbed 11 members of the Daesh/ISIS terror group in eastern Diyala province, the Interior Ministry said early Saturday. It said simultaneous operations in Abu Sayda, Khan Bani Saad and Abbara were carried out and the terrorists were caught in operations at five different locations, which was previously determined. The terrorists admitted to being members of a terror group and were referred to the court after official proceedings…



The Countdown to an Israeli War With Iran Has Begun

If Biden returns to the Iran nuclear deal, don't be surprised if Israel takes matters into its own hands.

John Hannah 

By , a senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and a former national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. 

A small army of top Israeli national security officials descended on Washington last week for their first in-person consultations with the Biden administration over its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Israel is adamantly opposed to the agreement, arguing that in exchange for a pause in Tehran’s nuclear program, it virtually guarantees that Iran can become a nuclear-weapons threshold state by the time the deal expires in 2030, while immediately funneling billions of dollars to a revolutionary regime single-mindedly focused not just on sowing aggression and terrorism across the Middle East but on the destruction of the Jewish state itself.

That’s not a risk that the Israelis are prepared to take lying down, as they’ve repeatedly made clear. If Washington’s strategy leaves Israel convinced that it faces a choice between fighting a much weakened Iran now or a much stronger Iran on a glide path to nuclear weapons a few years from now, no one should be surprised if Israel chooses the former. Though last week’s talks got almost no attention in the U.S. press, my impression from people familiar with the discussions is that the they may well mark the moment that the countdown to a new war in the Middle East began...



Israeli El-Al Plane Escorted by Greek Fighter Jets Over the Aegean


Greek fighter jets escorted an El Al Israeli passenger plane over the Aegean after the pilot raised an alarm on Friday morning. There were fears that the airplane, bound for Israel from New York’s JFK airport, may have been carrying a bomb or be under the control of hijackers. According to unconfirmed reports in local media, Greek fighter jets were dispatched along with French NATO aircraft in response to the alarm on the plane. ... The El Al plane landed safely in Israel on Friday morning after it was ascertained that it was not under any threat....




They Were Promised a Socialist Paradise, and Ended Up in ‘Hell’ 

Lee Tae-kyung has campaigned tirelessly in South Korea to share the story of the 93,000 people who migrated from Japan to North Korea from 1959 to 1984 and were forced to stay.

SEOUL — On a bright August morning in 1960, after two days of sailing from Japan, hundreds of passengers rushed on deck as someone shouted, “I see the fatherland!”

The ship pulled into Chongjin, a port city in North Korea, where a crowd of people waved paper flowers and sang welcome songs. But Lee Tae-kyung felt something dreadfully amiss in the “paradise” he had been promised. 

“The people gathered were expressionless,” Mr. Lee recalled. “I was only a child of 8, but I knew we were in the wrong place.” 

Mr. Lee’s and his family were among 93,000 people who migrated from Japan to North Korea from 1959 to 1984 under a repatriation program sponsored by both governments and their Red Cross societies. When they arrived, they saw destitute villages and people living in poverty, but were forced to stay. Some ended up in prison camps. 

“We were told we were going to a ‘paradise on Earth,’” said Mr. Lee, 68. “Instead, we were taken to a hell and denied a most basic human right: the freedom to leave…”




Kremlin bears down on Moscow bureau of US-funded radio station


In 1991, Boris Yeltsin gave Radio Liberty, the US government-funded broadcaster that had fought for decades to bypass Soviet jamming equipment, permission to open its own Moscow bureau. Now, 30 years later, the Kremlin looks close to shutting it down. A deadline for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty to pay the first of an estimated $2.4m (£1.7m) in fines will pass for the foreign broadcaster next week, threatening its bureau in Russia with potential police raids, blocked bank accounts, or the arrest of senior employees. RFE/RL says it will not pay the fines, which have accrued for its refusal to brand all its digital and video content as the product of a “foreign agent”. Roskomnadzor, the Russian mass media regulator, has initiated 520 cases against the broadcaster so far.... “They either want us to lose our physical presence in the country or neuter us, render us ineffective and not engaging with our audience,” ....


Russian S-400 Missile System Deployments are Heating Up the Arctic


As the ice continues to melt at a faster pace, opening up new waterways for maritime transit and segmenting new areas of ice and land, Russia has sought to expand its territorial boundaries in the Arctic beyond the continental shelf northward from the boundaries specified in the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea. Russia is adding more S-400 air defense systems to the Arctic in what can be seen as an overt effort to greatly “upgun” and further militarize its already sizable and growing Arctic footprint. Certainly the arrival of more S-400s in the highly contested and increasingly tense Arctic changes the tactical circumstances in which U.S. and allied aircraft can conduct operations, and it might not be a coincidence that these advanced Russian air- defenses are arriving shortly after Washington sent B-1 bombers to Norway for stepped up Arctic patrols...




Hezbollah exported drugs, weapons, with Lebanon government knowledge


Saudi Arabia on Sunday imposed a ban on the import or transit through the kingdom of all fruits and vegetables from Lebanon after a series of seizures, drugs and weapons in shipments coming from the Land of the Cedars to the Gulf countries. On Friday, Saudi authorities intercepted over 2.4 million amphetamine pills, concealed in a shipment of pomegranates coming from Lebanon...


Israel’s Apartheid Doesn’t Make a Difference

A new report about the Israel-Palestine conflict is morally damning—and politically irrelevant. 

By Steven A. Cook, the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East and Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. 


In April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report called “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” arguing that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel have met the definitions of apartheid and persecution—and thus, of crimes against humanity.

The report is damning. But it seems unlikely to have much influence on the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians or on the Western powers that express an interest in ending it...





U.S. Defense Sector Firms Attacked by Chinese Hackers


...This time the flaws are in Pulse Secure VPN devices. Reports published by Pulse Secure and FireEye state that a new zero-day flaw in Pulse Secure VPN equipment has been abused by two hacking groups—UNC2630 and UNC2717—who broke into the networks of U.S. defense contractors and government organizations. The attack and the attackers


• UNC2630 is a China-linked cyber espionage group and is believed to be tied with APT5, a threat actor probably associated with the Beijing government.


• The group attacked U.S. Defense Industrial Base (DIB) networks with SLOWPULSE, RADIALPULSE, THINBLOOD, PACEMAKER, ATRIUM, PULSECHECK, and SLIGHTPULSE. The attacks ranged from August 2020 and March 2021.


• UNC2717 activities ranged from October 2020 and March 2021 and attacked organizations with PULSEJUMP, QUIETPULSE, and HARDPULSE.


Iranian Hackers Hit H&M Israel as Local Firms Fight New Wave of Cyberattacks


Israel is in the midst of a new wave of cyberattacks, some six months after over 80 Israel companies were targeted in a string of ransom attacks that experts said were ideologically and not financially motivated. At least four Israeli companies have been hit and one nonprofit may have been targeted by what experts say may be a new attack by the Iranian hacking group that was also involved in the previous hacks. On Sunday, a group of hackers identifying themselves as Networm (stylized as N3tw0rm) posted the logo of H&M Israel to their website on the so- called dark web, implying that the company has been hit by the hackers...



Global microchip shortage has China eyeing Taiwan


One hundred miles off the coast of China is the largest and most sophisticated microchip maker in the world – Taiwan. These chips power the world's cars, phones, and computers.

China consumes more than half of them and wants more as its economy grows and is increasingly casting an eye to their island neighbor to the east to get them – some worry by military force one day. "Whoever controls the design and production of these microchips, they'll set the course for the 21st century," said Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Security. "By gaining control over Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, China would control the global market," Rasser said. "They would have access to the most advanced manufacturing capabilities and that is even more valuable than controlling the world's oil..."








Second Member Of "Boogaloo Bois" Pleads Guilty ... To Provide Material Support To Hamas


Michael Solomon, 31, of New Brighton, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources, namely property, services and weapons, to what he believed was Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, for use against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas. ... According to court documents, on June 10, 2020, Solomon and Teeter met with a confidential human source (“CHS”), whom the defendants believed to be a member of Hamas. During this meeting, Solomon and Teeter proposed assisting Hamas as a means of furthering the goals of the Boogaloo Bois. Throughout the course of the conspiracy, Solomon used encrypted messaging applications to communicate with Teeter and the CHS about various aspects of the conspiracy...




U.S. probing suspected directed-energy attack on government personnel in Miami


U.S. officials are investigating a suspected directed-energy attack on federal government personnel in Miami last year, as well as at least two other incidents involving U.S. officials on American soil, according to people familiar with the investigation. In Miami, several people reported symptoms similar to those exhibited by American spies and diplomats in Cuba starting in 2016 that became known as “Havana syndrome,” three people said. It was unclear which agency the people in the Miami incident belonged to…


US pushes ahead with nuclear plans despite watchdog concerns


The Biden administration appears to be picking up where former President Donald Trump left off as the federal agency that oversees U.S. nuclear research and bomb-making has approved the conceptual design and cost range for infrastructure investments for a multibillion-dollar project to manufacture key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The National Nuclear Security Administration in a decision announced Wednesday stated that planning and construction could cost upwards of $4 billion initially...


Rehabilitating Children of ISIS: Extracting Recommendations from the Education-Related ISIS Files


... The ISIS Files provide an opportunity to glimpse into the lives of communities that were living under ISIS control in the Mosul area from 2014 to 2017. Together with the testimonies of Iraqis previously living under ISIS-controlled territory and the existing body of propaganda that ISIS promoted on social media and the internet, these ISIS Files help to piece together a what Haroro Ingram calls a ‘competitive system of meaning’ that was integrated throughout all aspects of life.4 Moreover, educational systems are often a reflection of the core values and identities that comprise a nation, and in the case of ISIS, its education system is reflective of its main aims for its ‘caliphate.’ The research report examining the education-related ISIS Files unraveled this ‘competitive system of meaning,’ and revealed a template for how ISIS intended to continue to radicalize its followers and justify its violent ideology. It also argued that despite the fact that the education system run by ISIS was largely a failure due to circumstances (control of their territory was lost), the materials in the ISIS Files reveal the core ideology and future purpose of the group...

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