23 October 2023

Egypt’s Gaza Problem

Steven A. Cook 

Israel is not the only Middle Eastern power that has a tortured relationship with the Gaza Strip. Although it’s not a combatant in the current war, Egypt has played an important role in the immiseration of Gazans over the past 16 years, as together with Israel it has sealed the air, land, and sea borders around the strip.

Keeping Hamas out of the Sinai Peninsula has been an imperative for the Egyptian government since at least 2007, when the Islamist group defeated the security forces of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority in Gaza in a short civil war. Hamas’s success could inspire extremists in Egypt, Cairo reasoned, and so the blockade of the strip served Egypt’s interests as well as Israel’s.

The last round of violence in Gaza took place in 2014, a year after Major General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in Egypt in a coup d’état that overthrew Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Then, Egyptian leaders reasoned that having Israel mortally damage Hamas, itself a late-1980s creation of the Palestine branch of the Brotherhood, would greatly diminish the Islamist threat to both countries. And so Egypt privately counseled Israel to destroy Hamas. But the Israelis demurred, fearing the chaos and power vacuum that would likely result.

Israel’s enemies are blinded by the sins of America


The Nagorno-Karabakh region, between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has been the source of repeated, bitter fighting since the Nineties. A few weeks ago, following nine months of Azeri blockade of the majority-Armenian civilian population, Azerbaijan launched an offensive against the region. Some 100,000 Armenian refugees fled for Armenia. It was, in effect, an ethnic cleansing of the area.

In response, around 600 people, almost all Armenians, gathered outside Downing Street to call for support for Armenia. Their faltering effort stood in sharp contrast to the pro-Palestine protests that erupted over the weekend. Across the UK, tens of thousands marched. In London alone, their presence prompted the deployment of more than 1,000 police officers to keep the peace. As dusk fell, a large crowd milled about outside the Israeli embassy, brandishing Palestinian flags and chanting “We are all Palestinian”.

Who are these people? It seems unlikely that they’re all literally Palestinian, when the total estimated Palestinian-origin population of the UK is around 3,000. Rather they seem to come from four broad groups: genuine Palestinians, those who support Palestine through ethnic affinity, those who support Palestine through religious affinity, and those on the Left who support Palestine for ideological reasons.

All of these groups wave away the core reason given by Jewish people for desiring a safe homeland: their historic persecution, up to the Nazi project of industrialised murder that cost the lives of six million Jewish men, women and children. I don’t blame the survivors for wanting somewhere safe to live. But the crowd on London’s streets disagreed. Forget some putative “two-state solution”. They chanted: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” A glance at a map should make the implication clear: the elimination of Israel.

Russia’s Involvement in the Israel-Hamas War

Ekaterina Zolotova

After Israel said it was at war with Hamas, several countries expressed concern over the conflict’s escalation and called on both sides to halt hostilities. One of them was Russia – despite the fact that some heads of state have accused Moscow of aiding Hamas’ initial attack on Israel, saying it would prove a useful distraction from the debacle in Ukraine. Israel itself has dismissed these allegations as purely conspiratorial, and though Russia could benefit from the conflict, it would do so only as a mediator, not an aggressor.

After all, it’s certainly true that the world has shifted its attention from Ukraine to Israel, and it’s certainly true that Russia welcomes the reprieve. The Kremlin has spent untold resources on its war effort, and it can’t afford to come out as a loser. Losing would rob Moscow of the international status it so desperately seeks, it would very likely lead to domestic discontent, and it would result in the very thing Russia sought to avoid: NATO troops close to its border. These facts have led many to believe Russia will use this moment to launch another offensive. But the opportunity isn’t as good as it appears. Russia is too deeply involved in Ukraine, and in the revitalization of economic growth in the face of labor shortages and crippling sanctions, to aid or abet either side of the Israel-Hamas war. And even if it weren’t, Russia has an interest in maintaining good relations with both parties. The worse the war gets, the harder it is for Russia to do either.

Moscow understands that one way or another, the Ukraine war will end. It understands that Ukraine isn’t its sole avenue for expanding its influence. And it understands that, given the circumstances, it needs to engage politically and economically as much as it can with countries it has good relations with.

As U.S. Downs Israel-Bound Missiles From Yemen, Biden Faces Risk of Escalation


A U.S. Navy warship in the Red Sea on Thursday blew up three cruise missiles and multiple drones fired by Iran-backed Houthi fighters that were headed north from Yemen potentially to strike targets in Israel, the Pentagon’s top spokesman said Thursday. The rare direct American military engagement to defend Israel is meant to send a signal that the U.S. will act to protect its partners in the region, Defense Department Spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters.

The incident could be a sign of things to come. President Biden has ordered more military firepower to the region in an effort to convince enemies of Israel not to open new fronts on the country’s borders in the wake of the bloody attacks by Hamas that started Oct. 7. But experts warn that deterrence is only successful as long as your opponent doesn't call your bluff—after that, it becomes direct engagement in the fight.

It’s the foreign policy version of Chekov’s gun. The nineteenth century Russian playwright famously wrote that if a gun appears in the first act of a script, in the next act it should be fired.

The U.S. Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier group, led by the USS Gerald Ford, is now cruising closer to Israel in the eastern Mediterranean, reducing the response time of its advanced attack jets and the sea-to-land missiles. On Biden’s order, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group sailed out of port in Norfolk, Va. on Oct. 13 heading toward the Mediterranean Sea as well. And the Pentagon announced Thursday that more American fighter aircraft have been moved to bases the U.S. controls in the region.

All of that has put Biden and the U.S. on the hook to defend Israel and other allies there if the war between Israel and Hamas sparks a broader conflict.

Forget 'peace,' did Abraham Accords set stage for Israel-Gaza conflict?


It’s easy to forget now, but the shocking and horrific violence that set off the current hostilities in the Middle East, where Hamas militants slaughtered and kidnapped innocent Israeli civilians, was predicted. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Donald Trump warned in October 2020 that terrorist violence was set to be imminently inflamed.

Trump's DHS didn’t claim it was because, in President Joe Biden words, of “sheer evil” from those who exist only “to kill Jews.” Rather, it pointed to the Abraham Accords: the U.S.-led effort to normalize relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, which Trump claimed would shift the course of Middle Eastern history from “decades of division and conflict” and which the Biden administration claimed would make the region “safer and more prosperous.”

So how did we end up with the exact opposite?

For decades, the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, meaning the provision of an independent state for the Palestinian people and the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, was central to the task of engineering peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. This was a problem, since between successive Israeli governments steadily chipping away at the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict and dwindling U.S. interest in pressuring the Israeli state to follow through on the commitment, that resolution started to look increasingly impossible.

Is Iran the real Winner of the Hamas-Israel War

Shaul Bakhash

The coordination of Hamas’ attack on Israel strongly suggests an Iranian hand. Even without direction from Tehran, the impact seems to favor its regional goals. True or not, there will be consequences for Khamenei as unfolding events are beyond his control.

If one winner has emerged from the dangerous and already destructive Hamas-Israeli conflict, at least for now, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran. It has thrown a monkey wrench into the growing chance of reconciliation between Israel and the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia. It has undermined the image of an invulnerable Israel and has shown that a radical rejectionist group like Hamas, which Iran sponsors, can penetrate Israel, catch its famed military and intelligence forces unawares, kill over a thousand of its citizens, and take 199 more hostage. It has created havoc and the danger of a much broader conflict in the Middle East. The explosion at the hospital in Gaza increasingly looks as if it resulted from an Islamic Jihad rocket gone astray rather than an Israeli bomb. Yet, Iran will point to Israel as the perpetrator of this calamity.

A Success for Iran

Despite statements by US and Israeli officials that they have detected no direct role so far by Iran in Hamas’ decision to launch its attack on Israel, its role in this operation seems obvious. The Islamic Republic has long been Hamas’ major sponsor, funder, and arms supplier. It seems unlikely that Hamas launched such a major operation without a green light from Iran. Planning and training for a complex operation such as this suggests an Iranian hand. The Wall Street Journal has, in fact, cited sources that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard officers and Iranian officials were involved in meetings in Lebanon with representatives from Hamas, Hezbollah, and other militia groups that Iran sponsors, aiming to persuade these groups to cooperate and act together.

Hamas is the enemy of the Palestinians


Over the past two weeks, the same phrase has been uttered by countless politicians: ‘Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.’ US president Joe Biden has said it. British PM Rishi Sunak has said it. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, which rules over the West Bank, has said it (before his speech was redacted).

But something far stronger needs to be said. It’s not that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. It’s that Hamas is against the Palestinian people. It’s the enemy of the Palestinian people. Its interests as an Islamist terrorist movement, dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in its place, stand in direct opposition to the interests and lives of the Palestinian people.

Make no mistake: Hamas has always treated the Palestinians like dirt. Since it seized power in Gaza in 2007, it has ruled as one would expect it to – as a brutal, oppressive, theocratic regime. It has tortured and killed those who deviate from its strict ‘laws’, and who dissent from its quasi-fascist ideology. Homosexuals have been regularly persecuted, tortured and killed. And political opponents have frequently been murdered, sometimes under the cover of its intermittent battles with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

As Israel Bombards Gaza, Where Is India, the ‘Voice of the Global South’?

Muqtedar Khan

There are many ways to describe Israel’s response to Hamas’ horrific attack – justice, vengeance, collective punishment, or the exercise of its right to defend itself. In its attack on Israel, Hamas could have chosen to focus on military and security targets and avoided killing civilians. Instead, it acted with craven brutality by attacking women and children. Hamas revealed its true character and chose to be cruel and merciless, and for that, it deserves to be eliminated.

But those observers who are sensitive to the history of Western colonialism and imperialism, and have not forgotten the brutal military means with which the British, the French, and other Western powers had frequently crushed legitimate struggles for freedom (remember the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919), Israel’s response looks like a brutal assault by the combined economic, diplomatic, and military might of the Global North – the U.S., Europe, and Israel – on a small colony of about 2 million people fighting for independence and statehood.

Yes, Hamas is a terrorist organization. Its dismal record of governance signals its priorities clearly. But most Gazans are innocent civilians, half of them children, bearing the terrible burden of 16 years of blockade by Israel and Egypt, and several assaults by a vastly superior Israeli force. The poverty, underdevelopment, and lack of political autonomy over its own borders make Gaza emblematic of what constitutes “the southern” in the concept of the Global South.

What is Driving China-Bangladesh Bonhomie?

Mubashar Hasan

Against the backdrop of several recent geopolitical realignments, including the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific strategy, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and persistent tension between India and China, Bangladesh’s relationship with China has been growing significantly.

So how and why did Bangladesh become close to China? And what does this growing relationship mean for India and the U.S.?

A pivotal moment in the Bangladesh-China relationship was in 2012, when the World Bank in a publicly issued statement accused Bangladeshi government officials of engaging in corruption in a mega bridge project over the River Padma. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the Bank’s allegation as an attack on her prestige and sought Chinese help to complete the project.

Inaugurated in 2022 and built at a cost of $3.6 billion, the Padma Bridge now connects 21 districts in southwestern Bangladesh to the capital Dhaka. The Padma Bridge project is an example of Bangladesh’s hunger for development projects coinciding with the Chinese ambition to expand its strategic footprint in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s interest in Chinese involvement in its infrastructure projects is that they –-and to some extent Indian development projects too—adhere to a lesser extent of regulatory compliance in comparison to Western, especially American, projects. They are less expensive as well. Therefore, these projects are lucrative and preferred by Bangladeshi officials and politicians.

China is set to dominate the deep sea and its wealth of rare metals

Lily Kuo

KINGSTON, Jamaica — When the 5,100-ton Dayang Hao, one of China’s most advanced deep-water expedition vessels, left port south of Shanghai two months ago, a red-and-white banner — the kind used to blast Communist Party exhortations — reminded the crew of their mission: “Strive, explore, contribute.”


At every point of the compass, China is quietly laying the foundations of its new international order.

The Dayang Hao was bound for a 28,500-square-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii where China has exclusive rights to prospect for lumpy, golf-ball-size rocks that are millions of years old and worth trillions of dollars.

It is China’s latest contract, won in 2019, to explore for “polymetallic nodules,” which are rich in manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper — metals needed for everything from electric cars to advanced weapons systems. They lie temptingly on the ocean floor, just waiting to be hoovered up.

China vs US Approaches to AI Governance

Adam Au

As artificial intelligence (AI) barrels into every facet of life, its relentless momentum brings escalating perils. Differing attitudes toward governance have forked the policy roadmaps of two AI superpowers: China and the United States. With the most advanced AI capabilities and industries globally, both countries set influential norms that ripple worldwide. Their regulations carry global significance as an AI arms race unfolds between the two fierce rivals.

In the United States, comprehensive AI legislation has been extremely slow to materialize, if not completely absent. Substantial investments have been made in AI R&D, yet governance remains decentralized and inconsistent. The U.S. lacks a unified AI strategy similar to the European Union’s upcoming Artificial Intelligence Act. Instead, Washington is taking a fragmented approach spread across voluntary recommendations and non-binding regulations.

With limited bipartisan appetite for sweeping AI legislation, targeted laws concentrated on urgent issues like privacy may be more viable in the near term. After all, given that the concept of the right of privacy was arguably popularized by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis over a century ago, a federal data privacy law akin to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation remains long overdue. While regulators have been slow to act, signs point to Main Street demanding oversight to rein in AI’s risks before the genie fully escapes from the bottle.

The New Economic Security State

Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman

In April 2023, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan begged his listeners’ indulgence for straying out of his lane by delivering a major address about economics. But his actual argument—that decades of free-market zealotry had weakened the country’s national security—was anything but apologetic. “Ignoring economic dependencies that had built up over the decades of liberalization had become really perilous—from energy uncertainty in Europe to supply-chain vulnerabilities in medical equipment, semiconductors, and critical minerals,” Sullivan said. “These were the kinds of dependencies that could be exploited for economic or geopolitical leverage.” Sullivan acknowledged both the costs and the benefits of markets but emphasized how the economic liberalization pursued by past U.S. administrations had not created peace. Instead, a simplistic faith in the magic of markets had hollowed out U.S. industry, welcomed a rising adversary (China) into free-trade arrangements, and riddled global supply chains with critical security vulnerabilities.

In the past decade, economics and national security have collided, turning government inside out and upside down. The definition of security has expanded beyond matters related to warfare and terrorism, as previously disregarded economic and environmental problems such as food insecurity, energy shortages, inflation, and climate change have moved to the “very core” of the official U.S. National Security Strategy. Sullivan’s duties now involve the global marketplace as much as they do missile systems, and international economics officials such as U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai spend more and more of their time thinking about national security questions. They have little choice. Officials cannot easily disentangle trade and commerce from security when U.S. markets are intertwined with those of adversaries, consumer electronics are readily weaponized, and beefed-up graphics chips are the engines of military artificial intelligence.

Russians admit rare defeat as battle for key Ukraine city has 'fizzled out'


As the fight for the frontline city of Avdiivka was in its early stages last week, Russia's propaganda described it as a "decisive battle".

But Ukraine's ability to face the assault and the huge losses reported by Moscow's troops appear to have deflated even Russian pro-war bloggers, with some admitting the offensive has "fizzled and stopped", according to Republic magazine.

The commentators went as far as pinning down, among the reasons for the so far negative outcome of the Russian offensive, "concrete in the heads of commanders" who do not learn from their mistakes, the magazine also said.

Reports the battle had significantly slowed down in pace since it began on October 10 can be found also in Ukraine.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said its soldiers fought off 10 Russian attacks in Avdiivka on Tuesday and five on Wednesday - a number considerably smaller than that recorded at the height of the battle, when as many as 64 clashes within a 24-hour period were recorded.

Vitaliy Barabash, the head of the city’s military administration, said this lull indicates that the Russian army has "run out of breath" and "the situation has stabilised".

Joe Biden Caused The Chaos In The Mideast

Brandon Weichert

The Biden Administration has an Iran problem mostly of their own making. Having been handed a Middle East in a general state of peace by his predecessor, President Joe Biden went about undoing his predecessor’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and its terrorist proxies as well as dismantling the incipient Abraham Accords, which attempted to unite Sunni Arab power and Israeli power together in a coalition aimed at containing Iran’s growing power.

To compound matters, the forty-sixth president then went about undermining both Israel and Saudi Arabia for alleged human rights violations while trying to restart the disastrous Iran nuclear weapons agreement that former President Barack Obama had crafted and his Republican successor, Donald J. Trump, had rightly abandoned.

After three years of empowering the mullahs, distancing the United States from its traditional allies in the region, and signaling overall weakness to America’s rivals in the Greater Middle East, the collapse of the American-led order in this most geostrategically vital region has occurred.

What replaces it will be a devastating, Hobbesian system in which ethno-religious animosities are overlaid by the apocalyptic, zero-sum politics of nuclear weapons.

The Key Gas Pipeline Blast That the World Hardly Noticed

Luke Coffey

With the world focused on the fighting between Israel and Hamas, the sabotage of an important natural gas pipeline 3,200 kilometers away to the north of Gaza went almost unnoticed.

The Balticconnector is a natural gas pipeline connecting Finland with Estonia. Finished in 2019 and 150 kilometers long, it traverses the seabed of the Gulf of Finland connecting these two NATO and EU countries. Crucially, it is Finland’s only direct pipeline connection to the EU’s natural gas network.

During the early morning hours of October 8, a possible explosion in Finland’s economic exclusive zone was detected by Norway’s Seismological Institute. At the same time, Finland’s state-owned natural gas transmitter company, Gasgrid, noticed a significant drop in pressure in the Balticconnector pipeline. After closer examination, Finnish authorities discovered damage in the gas pipeline and a nearby communications cable. The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, attributed the damage to “outside activity.” While that may sound purposely vague, in the regional geopolitical context a phrase such as this probably means Helsinki suspects that Russia is somehow connected to the sabotage.

This isn’t the first time in recent memory that an underwater gas pipeline in northern Europe has been the target of sabotage. In September 2022, just several hundred kilometers away from the Balticconnector, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was blown up. Many NATO countries have accused Russia of being behind this attack. Of course, the Kremlin denies it.

It Is Impossible to Know What to Believe in This Hideous War


As a few bleak anecdotes illustrate, it is often impossible, in real time, for outsiders to know what is happening in the ceaselessly reigniting war between Israel and the Palestinians. This was true even before social media and before Elon Musk acquired Twitter and turned it into the cesspool of misinformation, trolling and hysteria now called X. But today countless people are plugged into a frantically churning news cycle, trying to instantly metabolize a conflict that is a hall of mirrors in the best of times and is now careening toward a possible regional war, with all the propaganda and mass panic that entails. It’s an epistemological catastrophe that is putting people’s lives in danger.

I went to bed on Tuesday night assuming, as many people did, that an Israeli airstrike had killed at least 500 people in Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza. That’s what the Gaza Health Ministry claimed, and those claims made headlines in leading news outlets, including this one. Politicians issued impassioned condemnations of what some called Israeli war crimes. Social media lit up with anguished howls of grief and rage. Furious protests erupted throughout the Middle East. A historic synagogue in Tunisia was reportedly set alight, and a synagogue was attacked with a firebomb in Berlin. The leaders of Jordan and Egypt canceled a meeting with President Biden, where they would have discussed aid to Gaza.

A World Without American Deterrence

Walter Russell Mead

‘How did you go bankrupt?” Bill Gorton asks Mike Campbell in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises.”

“Two ways,” Mike replies. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

Suddenly, the Biden administration faces a massive and complicated crisis in the Middle East. Missiles and warplanes streak across the skies above Gaza. Saudi Arabia bitterly criticizes Israel’s response to the Hamas atrocities, and much of the Arab and Islamic world has exploded in rage against the Jewish state. Mobs rampage through the streets, and American diplomats take shelter amid protests outside U.S. embassies from Baghdad to Beirut. Iran threatens Israel with more attacks, and Hezbollah is keeping pressure on Israel’s northern border.

President Biden’s decision to fly to Israel showed energy and courage. But more is needed. As I wrote in my last column, Mr. Biden has yet to grapple with the painful truth that America’s core problem in the Middle East is the march of an unappeasable Iran toward regional power regardless of moral or human cost.

That is not the only thing Mr. Biden and his team don’t seem to have grasped. The Middle East firestorm is merely one hot spot in a world spinning out of control. The success of Hamas sent waves of excitement through jihadist groups and terror cells in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Riots in France, a shooting in Belgium, anti-Semitic marches in Berlin and other uprisings across Europe point to a resurgence of radicalism. Africa, where feeble governments have lost the ability to control jihadist groups across swaths of territory, and where Russia’s Wagner Group supports many corrupt and violent military regimes, is bracing for more terror in more parts of the continent. The war on terror is plotting its comeback even as the Cold War between the U.S. and the revisionist powers heats up.

Different Wars, Same Global Battle for Democracy: Biden Links Ukraine and Israel

Philip Wegmann

In a rare Oval Office address, President Biden described the United States as “the indispensable nation,” standing by allies in the Middle East and in Europe now under attack by Islamic terrorism and a Russian tyrant respectively. In this way, he linked the 20-month long Ukraine war with the new one in Israel.

Emphasizing the global nature of the conflict, Biden said America, and by extension the world, now faces “an inflection point.” Hamas and Russian President Vladimar Putin, he continued, are “different threats” but share a common goal: “They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy.”

U.S. troops are not required on either front, according to the president. Instead, during an address that lasted just 15 minutes, Biden insisted from behind the Resolute Desk that only American munitions were needed, urging his countrymen to support Israel and Ukraine by continuing to reprise the role as “the arsenal of democracy.”

The White House will forward to Congress a request for as much as $100 billion in wartime aid, linking military assistance for Ukraine, that many Republicans are reluctant to approve, with money for munitions that GOP lawmakers are eager to send to Israel. Still without a speaker, or even a party leader, House Republicans may find themselves so at odds with one another that they are unable to register much resistance.

Biden asked – and then offered an answer – why Americans should care about a war in Europe that’s lasted more than 600 days and the one in Israel that Hamas began just last week.

The US-EU Summit: Time to focus on geopolitics

Frances G. Burwell and Georg Riekeles

The last summit between the European Union (EU) and the United States, in June 2021, focused on reaffirming the transatlantic partnership after some difficult years. At the summit in Washington, DC, this Friday, the United States and Europe must address the geopolitical challenges they face in an increasingly hostile and divided world. Transatlantic diplomacy can no longer be solely about the now strengthened partnership itself. Instead, its primary task must be to build joint efforts to ensure a more secure and resilient place for US and European citizens, in keeping with the transatlantic partnership’s democratic values.

The 2021 summit faced a relatively peaceful world. At this 2023 summit, the United States and the EU must demonstrate their determination and close coordination in their responses to Hamas’s strike on Israel and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most immediately, this will require holding Israel to the standards of international law as it justifiably seeks to remove the threat of Hamas. Russia’s war on Ukraine has been a key catalyst in energizing the US-EU partnership, fostering transatlantic cooperation on sanctions, export controls, and supplies of armaments. This summit should leave no doubt about the continued willingness of the United States and the EU to work together to supply weapons and financial support to Ukraine for as long as needed.

These are not the only conflicts and tensions challenging the United States and the EU. This geopolitical summit must also show unity in the face of threats from Iran and other countries that encourage terrorism and foster extremism. The United States and the EU must also look beyond physical threats to focus—both domestically and abroad—on disruptive perils online, from cyberattacks to state-sponsored disinformation.

Jamestown Foundation China Brief

Security Implications of China’s Auto Dominance

Xi’s Dilemma: The Risk of a War against Taiwan

Beijing’s Aggression behind Emerging India-Philippines Defense Relationship

China’s Anti-Corruption Efforts Gain Momentum in Finance and Healthcare

Terrorism Monitor, October 11, 2023, v. 21, no. 20 Brief: New Jihadist Group Wahdat al-Muslimin Aims to Unite JNIM and ISGS in the Sahel

Brief: Sulu Island in the Philippines ‘Abu Sayyaf-Free’ after Mass Surrender of Militants

Outside of Succession, IRGC Unlikely to Attempt Wagner-Like Coup

Were Jamaat Ansarullo’s Incursions into Tajikistan Real or Staged?

Indonesian President and West Papuan Militants Rely on Regional Organization to Resolve Conflict; Negotiations to Free Hostage New Zealander Continue

Army National Guard aims for 50,000 BYO-Device users as Hypori updates app


The military is experimenting with a Bring Your Own Device program to make communicating more convenient and still secure. (Terrance Bell / Fort Gregg-Adams)

WASHINGTON — The chief information officer of the National Guard Bureau isn’t just pushing his troops to use new “Bring Your Own Device” software to access secure federal systems on their personal phones. Kenneth McNeill is a pilot user himself, and he likes the capability so much that he got rid of his government-issued phone — three years ago.

Since the early days of the pilot BYOD project, which uses an app made by tech firm Hypori, he’s done all his mobile computing, personal and official, on the same device, McNeill told Breaking Defense in an exclusive interview. That’s countercultural for a retired Army officer who spent 27 years working on military-issued equipment as part of the Signal Corps, but McNeill is confident his government data is secure.

In fact, that’s why the Pentagon picked Hypori over other BYOD approaches, he said. “We looked at other industry partners that have similar capability, yes, but this was settled on because of cybersecurity.”

The Army, National Guard Bureau, and the Pentagon Chief Information Officer spent years testing and evaluating Hypori before approving it as an official “enterprise capability” in July.

McNeill is so enthused about the technology that he aims to ramp up to 50,000 users across the Army National Guard. A small number of users across other military components are also trying out Hypori on their personal devices, including new Air Force CIO Venice Goodwine.

Lawmakers, experts raise concerns over Pentagon’s ambitious Replicator drone initiative


It’s been nearly two months since Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks announced Replicator, an ambitious new initiative to counter China’s mass with thousands of drones, and industry wants to get involved.

But in front of Congress today, experts raised concerns about how Replicator will be implemented and funded, and whether the Defense Department has communicated the effort clearly enough to industry and the military services — and lawmakers seemed to agree.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., chairman of the House Armed Services cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee, said during a hearing that Congress and industry “are still left without any details on Replicator, what is necessary to make it successful, whether it is feasible and what counter-effects it seeks to offer to counter Chinese military capabilities.”

Replicator was announced in August by Hicks, who said the initiative aims to field thousands of attritable autonomous systems in 18 to 24 months, a timeline that is a “large undertaking” for the DoD, an entity “not exactly known for being speedy,” Rep. Dale Strong, R-Al., said at the hearing.

At the time, Hicks said DoD was purposely going to be “cagey” about what it would share about the effort, and so far that seems true.

The Navy’s New Unmanned Fleet Need a Captain on Deck

Jonathan Panter

On March 18, 2021, former Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia criticized the Navy’s then-recently-released Unmanned Campaign Framework as “full of buzzwords and platitude but really short on details.” When promised a classified concept of operations, she added, “I think the biggest question I have [is]… it is a fleet to do what?”

Two and a half years later, the American public – soon to spend half a billion dollars on unmanned vessels – could ask the same thing. What strategic ends are unmanned vessels intended to serve? The Navy has yet to update the Unmanned Campaign Framework. The document promises all the right things (“faster, scalable, and distributed decision-making”; “resilience, connectivity, and real time awareness”) but provides little granular detail about the differential utility of unmanned systems across mission and warfare areas.

Nevertheless, unmanned vessels are receiving more attention than ever. The media frenzy surrounding Ukraine’s “drone boats” continues; the Navy’s Task Force 59 (responsible for testing small unmanned surface vessels in the Persian Gulf) gets the feature-length treatment in Wired; and a front-page article in the New York Times all but lobbies for more unmanned ships.

Perhaps a concept of operations for unmanned surface vessels is floating around in the classified world. But elsewhere, buzzwords still rule the day. Just weeks ago the Department of Defense announced its new “Replicator” initiative to deploy thousands of drones within two years: it will be “iterative,” “data-driven,” “game-changing,” and of course, “innovative” (variations of the latter appear 22 times in the announcement). Never mind that, in warfare, “innovative” is not always synonymous with “useful.”

No, We Cannot Afford To Fund Yet Another War

Connor O’Keeffe

In a 60 Minutes interview over the weekend, host Scott Pelley asked President Joe Biden, “Are the wars in Israel and Ukraine more than the United States can take on at the same time?” The president answered, “We can take care of both of these and still maintain our overall international defense. We have the capacity to do this, and we have an obligation to.”

In a Sky News interview released Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gave a similar answer when asked whether the US could afford to fund another war at this time: “I think the answer is absolutely. America can certainly afford to stand with Israel and to support Israel’s military needs. And we also can and must support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia.”

This is not true. To see why, we need to understand the military goals of Washington’s allies in each conflict.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said Saturday that Israel’s goal in Gaza is “the rout of Hamas and the elimination of its leaders after the slaughter they perpetrated.”

The first phase involved cutting off food, water, and energy to Gaza and pummeling the strip with airstrikes while Israeli forces mobilized. Now the IDF are “in formation” for a ground invasion of Gaza City. Last Friday, Israel told the 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza to leave their homes and move to the southern half of the territory.

Curbing Government Internet Surveillance


Despite its immense value and global appeal, online encryption is under threat worldwide, with established democracies leading the charge. But after facing intense public pressure to protect the privacy and security of users, governments have realized that compelling “backdoor” access to applications is politically risky.

Government efforts to access private communications are nothing new. In decades past, such attempts at prying were often justified on national security grounds. Today, however, policymakers point to child safety and disinformation as reasons to limit privacy protections. Established democracies are often leading this charge, inadvertently paving the way for the world’s autocrats.

But people around the world are not taking these policies lying down. They speak out, using events like Global Encryption Day to highlight the importance of privacy and security not just for their own lives but for their communities and societies. And as vociferous opposition continues to stymie government efforts to expand surveillance powers, it has become clear that public pressure works.

Encryption, which scrambles digital data so that it can be read only by someone with the means to decode it, has become ubiquitous because it keeps information confidential and secure while authenticating the identity of the person with whom one is communicating. Today, billions of people use encryption to send digital messages and emails, transfer money, load websites, and protect their data. The gold standard in security is “end-to-end” encryption (E2EE), as only the participants have access to the data – not even the service provider can decipher it.