10 May 2019

Bangladesh’s China-India Balance

By Austin Bodetti

While China’s domination of the telecommunications industry in Asia has become a fact of life, the world power has established a foothold in another sector in Bangladesh: the energy industry. Plagued by persistent energy crises, the South Asian country has turned to courting foreign direct investment to fill its ever-growing gap between energy consumption and supply. For its part, China seems willing to foot the bill. China Huadian Hong Kong Company Limited agreed to construct one power plant in Bangladesh last year, and PowerChina partnered with a British counterpart to build another earlier this year.

“Bangladesh has for some time been constrained by energy supply problems, and this has led the government to explore foreign investment options,” said David Lewis, a professor of social policy at the London School of Economics and author of Bangladesh: Politics, Economics, and Civil Society.

Khalilzad flip flops on Pakistan, Taliban’s relationship with al Qaeda


While testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in July 2016, Zalmay Khalilzad said that Pakistan should be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism because it is an ardent supporter of the Taliban. He described the Taliban as an “extremist organization” with enduring ties to al Qaeda.

Just over two years after his testimony, Khalilzad has completely reversed his views without explanation. Since being appointed to serve as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in Sept. 2018, he has showered praise on Pakistan for its supposed efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan. He has even treated the Taliban as a credible counterterrorism partner.

Khalilzad made his remarks about Pakistan’s duplicitous role in Afghanistan, as well as the Taliban’s ties to al Qaeda, during the July 12, 2016 hearing before the HFAC Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, and on Asia and the Pacific. The committees asked if Pakistan was a “Friend or Foe in the Fight Against Terrorism?”

Al Qaeda-linked operations room counterattacks as bombs fall northern Syria


Bashar al-Assad’s air force and Russia have stepped up their bombing campaign in northern Syria in recent weeks. Sunni jihadists have responded with a series of operations targeting the Assad regime’s forces and its allies across four provinces.

The attacks are being carried out by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the “Incite the Believers” operations room, and other parties. HTS has been preparing for the possibility of larger assault on Idlib, the northwest Syrian province it largely controls.

“Incite the Believers” was formed in Oct. 2018 by several jihadi groups that operate somewhat independently from HTS. Its founding groups included Hurras al-Din (“Guardians of the Religion”), Ansar al-Din Front and Ansar al-Islam. Others have likely joined or cooperate with the joint venture as well.

The world shrugs as China locks up 1 million Muslims

China has detained an estimated 1 million to 2 million Uighur Muslims in the region of Xinjiang, and millions more live one step away from detention under the watchful eye of the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: It has been two years since the internment camps first came to light internationally, and a series of reports from Xinjiang have made vivid the scale of the abuses. Yet foreign governments and corporations are content to pretend it isn't happening.

"If right now, just about any other country in the world was found to be detaining over 1 million Muslims of a certain ethnicity, you can bet we’d be seeing an international outcry," says Sophie Richardson, china director for Human Rights Watch. 

"Because it's China, which has enormous power in international institutions these days, it's hard to muster any response at all." 

How web-connected is China?

The internet has fundamentally transformed China. Internet-based technologies help drive China’s ongoing economic development, connect its massive population to one another, and support research and development. Beijing also employs the country’s complex communications network to clamp down on political dissidence and freedom of expression. Understanding the opportunities and challenges presented by the internet in China is critical when evaluating its long-term development.

Getting Online in China

China established its first permanent connection to the internet on April 20, 1994, making it the 77th country in the world to go online. While adoption soon spread to China’s major metropolitan areas, it was not until more recently that the internet became a part of everyday life in China. Over the last decade, the percentage of Chinese using the internet has more than doubled, rising from 22.6 percent in 2008 to 59.6 percent in 2018. China’s large population also means it has the greatest number of internet users in the world.

Huawei’s Long Road to Global Tech Leadership

By Chen Dingding and Hu Junyang

The globalization of the world economy is entering a transformative period of evolution from the traditional mode of the knowledge economy to the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital-based technologies. Accompanying this comes a fundamental shift in what it means to be a leader in the marketplace and in the technology sector in particular.

In this invisible battlefield, China has long been active, with a greater edge than many observers appreciate. As one of the world’s largest investors and adopters of digital technologies and home to one-third of the world’s so-called unicorn companies, it persists in expanding the scale of innovation and entrepreneurship to aggressively consolidate this global position, according to a discussion paper by the McKinsey Global Institute. Comparatively, it is in mobile payments, for instance, that China becomes a true leader, with 11 times the transaction value of the same technology in the United States. Although the latter still remains dominant in the global landscape of the technology sector as a whole, China’s gap with other actors is shrinking.

The X Factor in China-UAE Relations: The Horn of Africa

By Samuel Ramani

On April 26, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Makhtoum, the ruler of Dubai, signed $3.4 billion in investment deals between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China. These contracts were hailed in Dubai-based news outlet, Khaleej Times, as a catalyst for a UAE role in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Overall, annual trade between China and the UAE is expected to increase to $106 billion by 2022.

While this major boost to the China-UAE economic partnership follows years of strengthening trade links, the foreign policies of both countries are not aligned in numerous respects. The most commonly cited obstacles to a durable China-UAE partnership stem from Beijing’s deepening economic links with Iran and Qatar, but conflicting interests on the Horn of Africa could also emerge as a cleavage between the two countries. The primary areas of contention between China and the UAE in the Horn of Africa relate to trade policy and the status of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia that has independence aspirations.

What George Marshall Learned From His Time in China

By Robert Farley

Shortly after the end of World War II, President Truman dispatched one of his most senior military officers, General George Marshall, to China in order to broker a peace between Nationalist and Communist factions. Truman and Marshall believed peace to be possible, and (influenced to some extent by the U.S. Army mission during the war), Marshall believed that leaning on Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists was the best way to achieve this peace. By 1947 Marshall would leave China, the civil war in full swing and his mission in shambles.

We have an extensive literature on the war years, starting with Barbara Tuchman’s important but flawed Stilwell and the American Experience in China. The U.S. had not ignored China during the war, but it never gave Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist government the resources it wanted to fight both the Communists and the Chinese. The “China question” was of considerable salience in the United States in the immediate post-war period, with missionaries, the business community, and anti-communists all expressing interest in the outcome of the civil war.

Might China Withdraw From the UN Law Of The Sea Treaty?

By Mark J. Valencia

The early April passage of the French frigate Vendémiaire through the Taiwan Strait, amid a significant increase of such passages by U.S. warships despite China’s objections, gives Beijing one more reason to consider withdrawing from the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) altogether. Withdrawing would have serious costs as well as benefits and both need to be considered.

The idea of withdrawing from UNCLOS (“denouncing it” in legal parlance) has come up before, particularly in regard to China’s nine-dash line historic claim to much of the South China Sea and an international arbitration panel’s ruling against it as not in keeping with UNCLOS. China refused to recognize or abide by the result. This in turn damaged China’s international standing and stirred a domestic nationalist reaction that worried the Chinese leadership. At the time, some of China’s analysts and military officers quietly questioned why China ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty in the first place. Part of the explanation is that China assumed — obviously incorrectly — that it could avoid the UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanism by its optional exceptions to the compulsory procedures, and through direct negotiations to settle maritime jurisdictional disputes.

China’s Digital Silk Road: A Game Changer for Asian Economies

By Chan Jia Hao

The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that took place April 25 to 27 saw 37 world leaders gather in Beijing to discuss more bilateral project opportunities with China. On the sidelines, however, the emerging Digital Silk Road was featured during the “Belt and Road CEO Conference” — a first, which brought representation by global Fortune 500 companies and other Chinese firms as a sign of their interest.

Since 2013, Beijing has inked 173 deals with 125 countries and 29 international organizations under the massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Boosting connectivity has been the overarching concept of the BRI. So far, the bulk of Chinese investments have been crowded around physical infrastructure projects in BRI host countries.

Hypersonics and Modern War

By George Friedman

The media has been filled with stories recently about Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles and how these weapons are changing the military balance of power. The U.S. Department of Defense has said it is struggling to keep up with the Chinese and Russian programs. The United States, however, has been working on developing hypersonic missiles since the 1990s; I even wrote an entire chapter in my 1996 book “The Future of War” on the U.S. hypersonics program. In the time since, it’s hard to believe that the U.S. has made little progress on this program, while the Chinese and Russians have surged ahead. Nonetheless, it’s possible that the U.S. has dropped the ball here. It’s also possible that the Defense Department is using this issue to leverage more money out of Congress while obscuring the progress it has made. The Chinese and Russians, meanwhile, are looking for any means to appear powerful and intimidating. But regardless of whether the U.S. has actually fallen behind on this matter, the real question is why hypersonic missiles are an important evolution in the first place.

How Do Hypersonics Work?

Xi Jinping Tries to Crash the May Fourth Movement’s Centenary

By Jiayang Fan

For China’s aging political leadership, certain anniversaries teeter between the emblematic and the problematic. On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping stood in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, one of the most consequential social protests in Chinese history, in which students agitated against the incompetence of the country’s authoritarian leaders. Xi told “China’s youth” today to love their motherland, and to “obey the party and follow the Party.” He also urged them to study the May Fourth Movement, and added that “those who are unpatriotic, who would even go so far as to cheat and betray the motherland, are a disgrace in the eyes of their own country and the whole world.”

Xi was taking a risk: the legacy of the May Fourth Movement is a complicated one, and to study its history is to confront the central hypocrisy of the Communist Party. The May Fourth Movement grew out of frustration with foreign aggression and the failure of the government to protect its citizens and its territory. On May 4, 1919, students from Peking University took to the streets to denounce the Treaty of Versailles, which allowed Japan to occupy the former German Concession in the coastal province of Shandong, territory that had been held by the German Empire prior to the First World War, instead of ceding control of it to China. More important, the leaders of the movement declared their ambition to make the country anew: to dismantle the bureaucracies, topple the hierarchies, and emancipate China from its feudal roots. They were joined by thousands of students from other universities, and marched to Tiananmen Square. There was some rioting, and a number of students were beaten and arrested, as the protests spread to other cities, but, after a general strike was called in June, they were released. Their actions are often credited with ushering China into the modern era.

In Israel-Gaza Conflict, an Airstrike Response to a Cyberattack Will be Closely Watched by Experts

by Kate Fazzini 

The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday it responded to a cyberattack from a Hamas-controlled compound in Gaza with an airstrike, a rare mix of physical and cyber conflict on the world stage.

The cyberattacks emanating from the Gaza facility were aimed at harming Israeli civilians and was thwarted online before the strike, the IDF said, though they did not immediately release further details about the cyberattack.

In Gaza, Hamas militants have launched 600 rockets into Israel, while the country has retaliated with hundreds of strikes on military targets there.

International organizations and militaries have long debated how or when countries should use military force to respond to cyberattacks that could harm citizens.

The incident is certain to spark further debate on how cyberattacks and live conflict should mix. It’s an important distinction as countries including the United States grow increasingly concerned at the possibility a cyberattack on the electric grid, water supply or other infrastructure could lead to loss of human life, and create norms for how they will respond to those threats, either immediately or preemptively…

In a Rare Video, Islamic State Leader al-Baghdadi Seeks to Divert Attention From His Group's Losses

The recording confirms that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State, is in hiding but still alive. Al-Baghdadi is trying to ensure franchise groups and grassroots supporters remain loyal to the militant group.
Islamic State attacks are unlikely to return to the heavy volume seen during 2014 through 2016.

Editor's Note: ­This security-focused assessment is one of many such analyses found at Stratfor Threat Lens, a unique protective intelligence product designed with corporate security leaders in mind. Threat Lens enables industry professionals and organizations to anticipate, identify, measure and mitigate emerging threats to people, assets and intellectual property the world over. Threat Lens is the only unified solution that analyzes and forecasts security risk from a holistic perspective, bringing all the most relevant global insights into a single, interactive threat dashboard.

Central and Eastern Europe’s Captured Media


BUDAPEST – In its March 22 edition, the Slovenian weekly magazine Mladina featured on its cover a cartoon of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán performing a Nazi salute while being hugged by right-wing politicians of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). And Orbán, whose governments have asserted near-total control over his own country’s media, wasn’t taking it lying down. 

The cartoon was linked to an article about the decision of the European People’s Party – a transnational group of center-right political parties that, since 1999, has retained the largest number of seats in the European Parliament – to suspend the membership of Orbán’s Fidesz party. The SDS had strongly opposed that decision, even threatening to quit the EPP if Fidesz was kicked out.

Why Capitalism Needs Populism


CHICAGO – Big Business is under attack in the United States. Amazon canceled its planned new headquarters in the New York City borough of Queens in the face of strong local opposition. Lindsey Graham, a Republican US senator for South Carolina, has raised concerns about Facebook’s uncontested market position, while his Democratic Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has called for the company to be broken up. Warren has also introduced legislation that would reserve 40% of corporate board seats for workers.

Such proposals may seem out of place in the land of free-market capitalism, but the current debate is exactly what America needs. Throughout the country’s history, it has been capitalism’s critics who ensured its proper functioning, by fighting against the concentration of economic power and the political influence it confers. When a few corporations dominate an economy, they inevitably team up with the instruments of state control, producing an unholy alliance of private- and public-sector elites.

American Soft Power in the Age of Trump


CAMBRIDGE – US President Donald Trump’s administration has shown little interest in public diplomacy. And yet public diplomacy – a government’s efforts to communicate directly with other countries’ publics – is one of the key instruments policymakers use to generate soft power, and the current information revolution makes such instruments more important than ever.

Opinion polls and the Portland Soft Power 30 index show that American soft power has declined since the beginning of Trump’s term. Tweets can help to set the global agenda, but they do not produce soft power if they are not attractive to others.

Trump’s defenders reply that soft power – what happens in the minds of others – is irrelevant; only hard power, with its military and economic instruments, matters. In March 2017, Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, proclaimed a “hard power budget” that would have slashed funding for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development by nearly 30%.

Israel Bombs Building as Retaliation for Hamas Cyber Attack

By Sergiu Gatlan

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that a building used by Hamas cyber operatives was bombed on Saturday as part of a joint retaliation operation with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Unit 8200 of Military Intelligence, following a failed cyber attack against Israel.

IDF's attack on the Hamas cyber operations center came during intensive fire exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians, which led to the exchange of roughly 900 rockets and, eventually, with an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire that began Monday 4:30 A.M. [1, 2, 3, 4].

While there is no detailed information on what was the aim of the Hamas cyber attack which prompted the airstrike, the commander of the IDF Cyber Division Brigadier General "D" said that it was aimed at "harming the quality of life of Israeli citizens" according to a The Times of Israel report.

Huawei’s Long Road to Global Tech Leadership

By Chen Dingding and Hu Junyang

The globalization of the world economy is entering a transformative period of evolution from the traditional mode of the knowledge economy to the age of artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital-based technologies. Accompanying this comes a fundamental shift in what it means to be a leader in the marketplace and in the technology sector in particular.

In this invisible battlefield, China has long been active, with a greater edge than many observers appreciate. As one of the world’s largest investors and adopters of digital technologies and home to one-third of the world’s so-called unicorn companies, it persists in expanding the scale of innovation and entrepreneurship to aggressively consolidate this global position, according to a discussion paper by the McKinsey Global Institute. Comparatively, it is in mobile payments, for instance, that China becomes a true leader, with 11 times the transaction value of the same technology in the United States. Although the latter still remains dominant in the global landscape of the technology sector as a whole, China’s gap with other actors is shrinking.

In addition to other internet companies, Huawei is a formidable company that fuels the country’s competitiveness and has recently commanded the most attention from outside. With its exceptional growth over the past few years in the telecommunication sector, Huawei is “the only Chinese company to feature in the annual ranking of the World’s Most Valuable Brands 2018 compiled by Forbes.” It has also moved up to 48th place on The Most Innovative Companies of 2019 list compiled by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

Pursuing Effective and Conflict-Aware Stabilization: Partnering for Success

The U.S. government has an opportunity to pursue effective and conflict-aware stabilization, building upon the U.S. Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) framework signed in June 2018.1 The SAR clarified roles and streamlined priorities for stabilization assistance, though “implementation will require sustained leadership, an interagency roadmap, new processes, bureaucratic incentives, and a review of authorities and resources.”2 The SAR includes a unified U.S. government definition of stabilization that recognizes stabilization as an “inherently political endeavor involving an integrated civilian-military process to create conditions where locally legitimate authorities and systems can peaceably manage conflict and prevent a resurgence of violence.”3

CSIS has embarked on a study to examine how to operationalize and build upon the SAR framework. This brief serves as a companion to a brief published in January 2019 which called for a clearer and contextualized definition of stabilization success and well-delineated roles, goals, and leadership structures in the U.S. interagency. It emphasized the importance of local actors and called for a process-based approached to assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E).4 This brief builds on the first by focusing on the lessons learned from past stabilization efforts and by addressing a key element of successful SAR implementation: partnerships. Success requires deeper interagency coordination and substantive partnerships with international partners. Lastly, this brief addresses a fundamental challenge to SAR implementation: updating the U.S. government’s tools, authorities, and resourcing to increase chances of success.

Russia’s Unusual Role in the Global Order

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Russia occupies an unusual position on the world stage. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow has repeatedly demonstrated that it has the capacity to destabilize the international order, but not the capacity to fill the vacuum it is creating. While Russia lacks the military strength to challenge U.S. supremacy, no one—particularly not the NATO alliance—is ignoring its capabilities. Moscow’s use of arms sales and military engagements to build ties to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America has also attracted attention. And its massive, and growing, exports of fossil fuels to Europe offers Russia additional leverage. 

Even as Moscow maintains an outsized influence on the global stage, discontent is brewing at home. Putin has dominated the Russian political scene for more than two decades, but his popularity is waning amid a slowing economy and a deeply unpopular pension reform effort. That may open space for his long-suffering political opponents to call attention to the corruption and violence that have marked his tenure. 

Will the Uprising in Venezuela Affect the Country's Oil Production?

A prolonged military uprising against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro risks disrupting Venezuela's oil production because dissident forces will see the country's export and production infrastructure as a key pressure point against the government. The ultimate success or failure of the uprising will depend on whether key military units in the cities of Maracay and Caracas turn on the Maduro government. If those units turn on Maduro quickly, action against oil export and production infrastructure will become less likely. Factors such as the distance to oil-producing regions and personnel constraints will limit the uprising's ability to threaten oil infrastructure. If opposition leader Juan Guaido has limited personnel at his disposal, he will focus the regime change efforts on Caracas and other major cities.

The attempted military uprising in Venezuela in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido carries with it significant risks for Venezuelan oil production. The uncertainty over how many military units support Guaido and how far they will go to pressure the government of President Nicolas Maduro will be the main risk in the coming days. Though virtually all known military movements have taken place in the cities of Caracas and Maracay — far away from Venezuela's extensive oil production and export infrastructure — the country's oil production could become a key factor as the uprising develops.

Agriculture Is Still Vital to U.S. Trade Talks -- For Now

By Rebecca Keller

Agricultural sectors in several countries will likely retain high levels of influence for another decade or so, but demographic change and technological advancements will eventually exert a stronger and more consistent influence, eroding farming's ability to shape trade priorities. The Japanese market may soon open up for U.S. farmers as Tokyo could sacrifice its own agricultural sector during its current trade talks with the United States to protect its other industries. The EU will push back against including agricultural concessions to the U.S. in their trade talks, but U.S.-China negotiations could progress in a favorable direction for U.S. farmers ahead of America's presidential elections. 

Finding the Real Will of the People

by Charlene Rohr and Jonathan Grant

It is not surprising parliament is struggling to find a solution to the Brexit impasse. It mirrors our research that no one Brexit option attracts a majority of preferences, whether people voted Leave or Remain.

Part of the problem is that the referendum outcome tells us nothing about the sort of Brexit people actually wanted when they cast their vote in 2016.

It was this problem that our research set out to address in 2017. What sort of relationship with the EU did the British people want?

To try to understand the answer to this question, we used a Nobel Prize-winning economics technique to ask the public to choose and—crucially—make compromises between different potential Brexit options. Similar to what parliamentarians have been trying to do in recent weeks, but different in a number of important ways.

Why America Will Face Even Deadlier Insurgents in the Future

Steven Metz

The United States, especially the American military, hates counterinsurgency. It is ethically and politically difficult, at times impossibly so. To do it, American troops and government officials must prod a problematic ally to undertake deep reforms while facing off against an often ruthless enemy. Terrorism, assassination, subversion and sabotage are persistent and more common than the type of pitched but conventional battles that the U.S. military prefers, in which it can assert its technological advantages. 

This Is Your Brain on Nationalism

By Robert Sapolsky

He never stood a chance. His first mistake was looking for food alone; perhaps things would have turned out differently if he’d been with someone else. The second, bigger mistake was wandering too far up the valley into a dangerous wooded area. This was where he risked running into the Others, the ones from the ridge above the valley. At first, there were two of them, and he tried to fight, but another four crept up behind him and he was surrounded. They left him there to bleed to death and later returned to mutilate his body. Eventually, nearly 20 such killings took place, until there was no one left, and the Others took over the whole valley.

The protagonists in this tale of blood and conquest, first told by the primatologist John Mitani, are not people; they are chimpanzees in a national park in Uganda. Over the course of a decade, the male chimps in one group systematically killed every neighboring male, kidnapped the surviving females, and expanded their territory. Similar attacks occur in chimp populations elsewhere; a 2014 studyfound that chimps are about 30 times as likely to kill a chimp from a neighboring group as to kill one of their own. On average, eight males gang up on the victim.

What Effects Will Tighter U.S. Sanctions on Iran’s Oil Have?

by Amy M. Jaffe

The United States announced it will no longer exempt a small set of countries, including China, from its oil sanctions regime against Iran. CFR’s Amy Myers Jaffe, an expert on global energy policy, assesses the impact on the oil market and the potential reactions from both Tehran and Beijing.
Oil prices ticked up a few percentage points after the announcement. Do you expect prices to remain higher, or is there enough supply in the market to cover a drop in Iranian exports?

U.S. sanctions had already curbed Iran’s oil production substantially earlier this year. The Trump administration’s tough stand on waivers could remove an additional five hundred thousand barrels per day or more from the market in the coming weeks. This would come on top of production cuts planned by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and ongoing production and export problems in Libya and Venezuela.

Oil prices will continue to be sensitive to any supply disruptions, despite expectations of rising U.S. oil production and possible production increases from Saudi Arabia. Should prices begin to rise precipitously, the Trump administration could make sales from the United States’ strategic petroleum reserve.

Mideast Insurgents Enter the Age of Drone Warfare

by Dion Nissenbaum and Warren P. Strobel – Wall Street Journal

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have launched armed drone attacks with far more precision and reach than the U.S. and its Gulf allies have publicly acknowledged, people familiar with the matter said, showing how readily-available technology is creating new dangers for America and its allies in the Middle East.

A Houthi drone hit a Saudi Aramco oil refinery outside the capital of Riyadh in July, according to a company executive and a Gulf official. That month, a Houthi drone evaded Emirati air defenses and exploded at Abu Dhabi’s international airport in the United Arab Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The airport attack damaged a truck and delayed some flights—but its reach and brazen nature unnerved the Emirati government, which denied it took place, a story that the U.S. supported, according to former U.S. officials. Saudi leaders as well publicly denied Houthi claims about the Aramco attack, which also did limited damage…

Silicon Valley is a political force, or five of them

by Michael J. Coren

Silicon Valley has managed to alienate both sides of the political spectrum. On the left, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren intendsto break up companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple. “Today’s big tech companies have too much power—too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy,” she wrote on Medium. On the right, House member Tom McClintock has accused Google and Facebook of “practicing censorship and political favoritism” (mostly while moderating threats and hate speech on their platforms), articulating the new conservative battle cry. During Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last April, Republican senator John Kennedy warned the CEO: “I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God I will.”

Big tech appears to be taking the threats seriously, going on a lobbying spree that saw five companies—Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft— spend $64 million in 2018, as well as sending executives to appear before congressional committees.

Libya’s Fate Remains Beholden to a Crude and Clumsy Game of Realpolitik

Tarek Megerisi 

When Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the self-declared Libyan National Army, released an audio message announcing his offensive on Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on April 4, he likely expected things to go very differently. Despite being the centerpiece of a United Nations political process that his international backers—primarily France, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt—had essentially hijacked to provide him a diplomatic route to uncontested power in Libya, Haftar used the assault on Tripoli to send a clear message that he rejected even the semblance of diplomacy and power-sharing. After all, it began on the same day that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Tripoli to carry the political process over the line. Haftar believed he could blitz western Libya as he had done the country’s south, flipping a critical mass of local militias over to his breakaway army that first appeared in eastern Libya in 2014.