7 December 2023

What to Know About Israel’s Expanding Ground Assault in Gaza


Gazans are facing new mass evacuation notices after the Israeli military said on Sunday that its ground assault in Gaza had expanded to include all of the Palestinian enclave.

On Monday, Israeli forces urged residents to evacuate central Gaza and the southern city of Khan Younis, which has since faced a campaign of heavy bombing. The IDF has posted an illustrative map with numbered conflict zones on social media, telling Palestinians to head south towards Rafah, which has also faced bombardment, or to the West of the strip.

"The IDF (Israel Defence Forces) continues to extend its ground operation against Hamas centers in all of the Gaza Strip," spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters in Tel Aviv. "The forces are coming face-to-face with terrorists and killing them,” Hagari added. Israel’s government spokesperson, Eylon Levy, claimed that the military has struck over 400 targets.

The Jabaliya refugee camp is also among Israel’s renewed targets. But locals—many of whom have already been evacuated from the North—say there are no safe places left to go. OCHA estimates that 1.8 million people have now been displaced in Gaza, amounting to 75% of the population.

The move comes two days after a temporary ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke down on Friday, with both sides blaming each other for breaching the deal. During the seven-day pause, 105 hostages were released by Hamas, in exchange for 240 Palestinian women and children who were held in Israeli prisons.

Israel cyber directorate, Shin Bet given power to fight cyberattacks


Israel's National Cyber Directorate (INCD) announced last week that the government has approved emergency regulations to enhance the country's ability to defend against widespread cyberattacks. Since the start of the war with Hamas in Gaza, the INCD has identified approximately 40 attempted cyberattacks on companies and digital storage services that cater to numerous Israeli businesses.

The purpose of these regulations is to minimize potential collateral damage to the economy during emergencies resulting from these cyberattacks.

Due to the nature of the services offered by storage and digital services, they provide a gateway for attackers to infiltrate and compromise connected entities or stored information, potentially affecting multiple customers simultaneously.

The scope of damage may extend to critical institutions such as hospitals, shipping companies, and government offices, which play an essential role in normal operations and especially during emergency situations.

Wave of cyberattacks hit Israel amid war with Hamas

Throughout the war with Hamas, there has been a rise in damaging cyberattacks targeting these types of companies. To safeguard the public and ensure the uninterrupted functioning of the Israeli economy, the need arose for urgent implementation of emergency regulations to detect, contain, and minimize the impact of such attacks.

‘We are officially hostages.’ How the Israeli kibbutz of Nir Oz embodied Hamas’ hostage strategy


The engineer and his family cowered in the safe room, dark except for a red remote-control light because they feared the gunmen outside the door would notice anything brighter.

Eyal Barad had just reconfigured the settings on a homemade traffic camera from his cell phone to monitor the Hamas attack unfolding in the kibbutz of Nir Oz. But his 6-year-old autistic daughter — hiding in the room with him, her mother and her two siblings — could not understand that their lives depended upon silence. Her cries were building into near-screams.

Barad wrapped his arms around the girl, covered her mouth tightly, and looked over her head to his wife. His whispered, agonized question: Should he cut her airflow long enough to knock her unconscious, to keep everybody alive?

But he couldn’t risk killing her. He resolved: “We all go, or we all survive.”

Eyal Barad pauses in the safe room where he sheltered with his family on Oct. 7 as Hamas militants killed and captured a quarter of the community on Kibbutz Nir Oz, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. An Associated Press review of hundreds of messages shared among Nir Oz residents, security camera footage and Hamas instruction manuals show the group planned ahead of time to target civilians, a change in tactic that heavily impacted how the war in Gaza played out. 

Netanyahu Corruption Trial Resumes, Adding to Israeli Leader’s Challenges

Matthew Mpoke Bigg

The corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel resumed on Monday, bringing back into focus the legal and political challenges he faces even as he presides over the Israeli military’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli courts had stopped hearing non-urgent cases after Hamas launched a devastating surprise attack from Gaza on Oct. 7, but on Friday, the country’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, said that most normal court operations could resume because the suspension had expired.

Mr. Netanyahu did not attend Monday’s hearing, which dealt with procedural issues, according to Israeli news media reports.

He could testify in person in the spring as part of the defense’s case.

Mr. Netanyahu has been on trial since 2020, accused of bestowing political favors on businessmen in exchange for expensive gifts and offering regulatory benefits to media moguls in exchange for positive news coverage. He denies the charges and has rejected calls to resign.

With New Government, New Zealand’s Foreign Policy Resets on AUKUS, Gaza, and Ukraine

Geoffrey Miller

New Zealand’s international relations are under new management. And Winston Peters, the new foreign minister, is already setting a change agenda.

As expected, this includes a more pro-U.S. positioning when it comes to the Pacific. Peters sought to align New Zealand more closely with the United States under his “Pacific Reset” policy that he launched while serving as foreign minister under Jacinda Ardern’s Labor-New Zealand First coalition government from 2017-2020.

Peters is wasting no time in getting back on the foreign affairs horse. Just three days after being sworn in as a minster, he gave his first speech on foreign policy at the U.S. Business Summit in Auckland last week.

Peters was lavish in his praise for the United States in his address, arguing that Washington had been “instrumental in the Pacific’s success.” But he noted that “there is more to do and not a moment to lose. We will not achieve our shared ambitions if we allow time to drift.” Adding that ”speed and intensity” would be needed, Peters said “the good news is that New Zealand stands ready to play its part.”

The early timing of the speech itself is a sign that New Zealand’s new, yet very familiar foreign affairs minister is unlikely to wait around when it comes to taking major decisions. It was an important, agenda-setting address.

There were strong hints that New Zealand’s new government – a coalition of the National Party, ACT Party, and Peters’ New Zealand First – wants to move swiftly when it comes to Wellington’s potential involvement in in Pillar II of the AUKUS defense pact, which currently involves Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

US & other nations will push for tripling nuclear power by 2050 during COP28. India must join in


The agenda for the United Nations’ upcoming 28th Climate Change Conference of the Parties promises more than the usual climate discussions. This time, the spotlight will also fall on nuclear energy, and India must take advantage.

Scheduled from 30 November to 12 December in the United Arab Emirates, the COP28 to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is particularly important. It marks the conclusion of the first global stocktake, a five-year assessment of progress made toward Paris Agreement goals. Apart from the usual business, nuclear energy will be a central talking point during the summit. The US is reportedly set to lead the effort to advocate for significantly increasing nuclear power globally, with the aim of least tripling worldwide capacity by 2050.

The proposed declaration will urge the World Bank and other international financial institutions to include nuclear energy in their lending policies. So far, the World Bank has followed a policy of not financing nuclear energy projects. Countries like the UK, France, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Ghana, Morocco, and South Korea reportedly support this declaration, and other countries may join as the summit nears.

Given India’s ambitious targets to expand its nuclear capacity, it should partner with the US in these efforts. India should also sign this declaration to have a voice and advocate for its interests.

COP28: Should India and China benefit from a climate damage fund?

Navin Singh Khadka

China is the top emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, while India comes in at number three.

The two countries also have major economies - so why is there a disagreement over whether they should contribute to a fund to tackle the damage caused by climate change?

The question remains even after COP28 - this year's United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Dubai - announced a deal between countries to begin the operation of the fund and 18 countries pledged money for it.

A report released in 2022 by the Vulnerable 20 Group (V20), which has 68 developing nations as its members, showed that 55 members (the rest joined recently) had lost $525bn (£414.2bn) because of climate change over the last two decades. This was one-fifth of their wealth.

China and India are not among these countries but argue that they too have vulnerable communities which will need financial support from such a fund.

A 2022 UN report said that by 2030, developing countries would need over $300bn annually to fight climate change. "Loss and damage finance needs are closely connected to our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change," it added.

What is the loss and damage fund?

The fund aims to provide financial assistance to poorer nations that have been hit by climate-related disasters - for example, communities displaced by floods or rising sea levels - so that they can rebuild and be rehabilitated.

India-China war: the true story


“IF Maxwell were to put the report online, no red faces will be noticed in South Block. They will be covered with egg.” I take no credit at all for this prediction (“Publish the 1962 War Report now”; The Hindu , July 2, 2012). For the last two decades I have been pleading for its publication (“Looking back: A case for publishing the Henderson Brooks report”; Frontline ; April 10, 1992). I cited evidence to prove that Australian journalist Neville Maxwell had a copy of the report, a fact which I learnt as far back in 1970 from the proofs of his article in The China Quarterly (London). I pointed out also that his book India’s China War , published by Jaico (Bombay) in 1970, was very much based on that report, which was prepared by a two-member internal inquiry team comprising Lieutenant General Henderson Brooks and Brigadier Prem Singh Bhagat of the Indian Army.

The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah, who on March 19, 2009, rejected Kuldip Nayar’s application “to make available a copy of the report”, had egg on his face when the report was put online on March 17. Unlike him, his colleague, Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma, did not give press interviews or appear on the TV to justify the report on spurious grounds.

Even more shameless was the reaction of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) spokespersons. Never short of venom, they picked on Jawaharlal Nehru as the target of their fusillades. In this, they are being dishonest, characteristically so (see box). Predictably, Maxwell came in for abuse because he is uncritically and stridently pro-China, whether on the Sino-Soviet boundary dispute or on Hong Kong. We are in for a repeat performance of this pantomime when Maxwell fulfils his promise: “A second edition of which [his book] will appear shortly” ( Economic & Political Weekly ; December 22, 2012). He had earlier, in the same journal, revealed his possession of a copy of the report: “The Henderson Brooks Report is long (its main section, excluding recommendations and many annexures, covers nearly 200 foolscap pages)” ( EPW ; April 14, 2001; emphasis added throughout). Thanks to Habibullah’s disgraceful order, the public is deprived of a vital part of the report—the recommendations, besides, of course, the telltale annexures. No prizes for guessing the identity of the source who revealed to the media that the annexures contain Lieutenant-General B.M. Kaul’s letters with juicy details.

NASA Chief in India: Big Fillip to India-US Space Agenda

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

The head of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Bill Nelson, visited India last week. His trip appears to have gone very well. India-U.S. cooperation in outer space has been growing steadily over the last several years, and this visit will likely enhance it further.

In taking forward an idea first announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden during Modi’s state visit to the United States in June, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) chief Dr. S. Somnath confirmed that ISRO is working together with NASA to send an Indian astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) by end of 2024. Referring to a statement by the NASA head, Somnath confirmed that “that Indian astronauts will be flying to the international space station in an American vehicle.” This is remarkable and reflects the enormous confidence and comfort level between India and the U.S., especially between the two space agencies.

Acknowledging possible Indian sensitivities, Nelson clarified that the U.S. “will select astronauts as determined by ISRO, and NASA will not be making any selections here.” Somnath was quite upbeat, stating that the Indian astronauts will undergo “comprehensive training” at U.S. facilities. Besides the astronauts, the teams responsible for handling, medical support, and control operations will go through training at U.S. facilities. Nelson said that the two space agencies have established a joint working group focused on human spaceflight collaboration that will explore upcoming human space missions and other opportunities.

Meanwhile, India’s first human space mission, Gaganyaan, is getting ready for a take-off in early 2024. A press release from the Indian Department of Space stated that the Indian space agency is looking at the possibility of using NASA’s Hypervelocity Impact Test (HVIT) facility for validating Gaganyaan module Micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) protection shields.

The Taliban’s Enemies Can’t Agree on Anything

Lynne O’Donnell

As the Taliban consolidate Afghanistan’s status as a nexus for much of what is bad in the world right now, from crimes against humanity to the wholesale export of drugs, guns, and terrorism, a bloodthirsty old warlord popped up at a recent meeting of the putative opposition to declare war as the only hope of getting their country back.

Philippine House Voices Support For Talks With Communist Rebels

Sebastian Strangio

Leading members of the Philippines’ House of Representatives have thrown their support behind the revival of the peace process with the country’s communist rebels, a day after Vice President Sara Duterte criticized the move as an “agreement with the devil.”

Last week, Norway’s Foreign Ministry announced that representatives of the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) had agreed to a “common vision for peace.” Under the agreement, the two agreed “to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict” and would seek to resolve the “deep rooted socioeconomic and political grievances” that had given rise to it.

In a statement today, leaders of political parties in the country’s House of Representatives issued a joint statement expressing their “unwavering support” for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision to resume talks with the NDFP.

The party leaders said Marcos’ push for peace talks “transcends political boundaries and speaks to the core of our shared values as Filipinos.” They added, “We are united in the belief that through dialogue, empathy, and mutual respect, we can overcome historical divides and build a more inclusive and peaceful nation.”

The statement came in response to comments made by Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday, when she expressed her opposition to negotiations with communist rebels. “Mr. President, the government’s statement with the NDFP in Oslo was an agreement with the devil,” Duterte said during the 5th Anniversary of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, of which she is the vice co-chair. She said that “we can negotiate for peace and reconciliation and pursue meaningful development efforts in the Philippines without capitulating to the enemies.”

Vietnam in a Styrofoam Box: A Tale of Corruption and Concealment

Buu Nguyen

In the heart of Vietnam, where ancient traditions intertwine with modern aspirations, a curious symbol has emerged as a stark representation of the country’s deep-rooted corruption: the Styrofoam box. These humble containers, once used to transport everyday items such as fresh produce and packaged goods, have become synonymous with the brazen acts of bribery and illicit wealth accumulation that plague Vietnamese society.

Paradoxically, the association of the Styrofoam box with corruption has its roots in the common practice of reusing such boxes to plant “clean” vegetables, a practice born out of a desire to avoid the use of pesticides and other chemicals commonly found in market-bought produce. This practice reflects the deep-seated concerns of many Vietnamese about the safety of their food supply and the lengths they are willing to go to protect their families’ health.

However, the Styrofoam box’s image has been tarnished in recent times, when it was used as a literal vessel for a series of high-profile corruption scandals. In one particularly infamous case, the full scale of which was revealed this month, Truong My Lan, a businesswoman associated with the real estate conglomerate Van Thinh Phat, was indicted on three charges: bribery, violation of banking regulations, and embezzlement. Lan confessed to bribing Do Thi Nhan, the former head of Inspection and Supervision Department II under the State Bank of Vietnam, with $5 million in cash, neatly stashed in three Styrofoam boxes.

In another instance, Phan Van Anh Vu, also known as Vu “nhom,” the former Chairman of the Bac Nam 79 Construction JSC, admitted to using three Styrofoam boxes to transfer $4 million in cash to Nguyen Duy Linh, the former deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security’s General Department of Intelligence.

Are Investors Becoming Disillusioned With Southeast Asia’s Tech Companies?

James Guild

For Southeast Asian tech giant Sea Ltd, 2023 has been a year of contradictions. After posting big losses for a long time, Sea actually became profitable this year. Through the first nine months of 2023, Sea reported net income of $274 million, which is a considerable improvement compared to its $2 billion net loss over the same time period in 2022.

And yet, the stock has dropped throughout the year and is currently hovering around $35 a share. At the peak of the stock market’s wild run in 2021, Sea was trading at over $350 a share even though it is more profitable now. Why are investors punishing Sea for being profitable?

Welcome to the upside-down world of tech companies and their market valuations. The market often values tech companies based on expectations of what they will one day be, as opposed to what they are doing right now. Tesla, famously, has a higher valuation than one might expect based on its actual earnings.

And Sea is no different. When it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017, the idea was that Sea would occupy a critical position in Southeast Asia’s rapidly growing digital economy one day, and investors were buying into the value that this future market dominance would generate. Now the stock is being pummeled because investors are apparently losing confidence in Sea’s ability to maintain and expand that market share.

Sea’s digital gaming arm has been its main earner, especially during the pandemic. Although it remains profitable, revenue is down and growth in active daily users has stagnated. Meanwhile, the gross merchandise value of transactions on Sea’s e-commerce platform, Shopee, increased by 5 percent in the third quarter of 2023 compared to a year ago. Five percent year over year growth is not bad by most standards, but investors probably expect Shopee to grow faster than that.

Wind in the Sails of Renewables in Kazakhstan

Catherine Putz

On the sidelines of COP28, the U.N. climate change conference, Kazakhstan heralded its efforts to put wind in the sails of its own energy transition. Kazakhstan inked a new agreement with the host United Arab Emirates’ state-owned renewables company, Masdar, on December 2 for the development of a 1 gigawatt wind power project in the Central Asian state.

This follows two other wind farm projects announced earlier in 2023, including the Mirny wind farm project with France’s TotalEnergies and a deal with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power for a wind farm and battery storage project.

In June, TotalEnergies signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Mirny project – a 1 GW onshore wind farm paired with a 600 MWh battery storage system – with the Financial Settlement Center (FSC) of Renewable Energy, a public entity owned by the Kazakh government, which will buy the energy generated and supply the national grid. Per a press release, “TotalEnergies will develop the Mirny project in partnership with the National Wealth Fund Samruk-Kazyna and the National Company KazMunayGas, which will each own a 20% stake in the project.” The project, TotalEnergies said, represents a $1.4 billion investment.

A few days after the French deal was announced in June, a roadmap agreement was signed between ACWA Power, Kazakhstan’s Energy Ministry, and Samruk-Kazyna. The project appears tp have similar parameters: a 1 GW wind project, with attendant battery storage, and an investment of $1.5 billion. The ACWA deal, however, also marks the Saudi company’s entry into the Kazakh market.

Sellafield nuclear site hacked by groups linked to Russia and China

Anna Isaac and Alex Lawson

The UK’s most hazardous nuclear site, Sellafield, has been hacked into by cyber groups closely linked to Russia and China, the Guardian can reveal.

The astonishing disclosure and its potential effects have been consistently covered up by senior staff at the vast nuclear waste and decommissioning site, the investigation has found.

The Guardian has discovered that the authorities do not know exactly when the IT systems were first compromised. But sources said breaches were first detected as far back as 2015, when experts realised sleeper malware – software that can lurk and be used to spy or attack systems – had been embedded in Sellafield’s computer networks.

Nuclear Narnia: why is Sellafield Europe's most dangerous industrial site?

It is still not known if the malware has been eradicated. It may mean some of Sellafield’s most sensitive activities, such as moving radioactive waste, monitoring for leaks of dangerous material and checking for fires, have been compromised.

DELIBERATE NUCLEAR USE IN A WAR OVER TAIWAN: Scenarios and Considerations for the United States

Matthew Kroenig


The potential for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan may be the most critical flash point for a military conflict for the United States in the next five to ten years. Both the United States and China would be highly resolved not to lose such a conflict. For the United States, a defeat over Taiwan could call into question US security guarantees globally, which underpin the US-led, rules-based international order and the unprecedented period of peace and prosperity it has sustained since the end of World War II. For Beijing, restoring China to a position as a leading world power is key to the legitimacy of the governing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its general secretary, Xi Jinping. According to the work report delivered at the CCP’s Twentieth National Congress in October 2022, unification with Taiwan is required “for realizing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”1 

A US-China war over Taiwan would be the first direct military conflagration between two nucleararmed superpowers, and the shadow of nuclear use would hang over the conflict. Given the high stakes, either side could possibly decide to use a nuclear weapon in such a conflict. While China espouses a declaratory policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, the US Department of Defense states bluntly that Chinese nuclear first use is possible.2 China, for instance, could decide to employ a few nuclear weapons against critical nodes in the US IndoPacific defense architecture as an early war-winning strategy. Alternatively, if China was losing, CCP leadership could order a nuclear strike to stave off defeat and compel a settlement. China is engaged in the most significant expansion of its nuclear force in the country’s history as a nuclear state, “allowing it potentially to adopt a broader range of strategies to achieve its objectives, to include nuclear coercion and limited nuclear first use,” according to the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review.3 

The United States also reserves the right to threaten the use of nuclear weapons to deter a strategic attack against itself or its allies and partners and, if deterrence fails, to employ strategic weapons to achieve presidential objectives.4 While the United States is investing in conventional capabilities to deter and, if necessary, defeat a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, a window could open in which China possesses capabilities for an invasion but the United States has not yet acquired the capabilities to deny the attack. In this instance, the United States might choose to use nuclear weapons against the Chinese invasion force to prevent the conquest of Taiwan. 

Facing a Rigged Election, Hong Kongers Are Expected to ‘Lie Flat’

Michael Mo

In the streets of Hong Kong, advertisements for the upcoming District Council Election are visible across the city. These promotions, ranging from posters in public housing estates to large billboards in shopping districts, are not placed by the candidates, however. Instead, it is the government that is promoting the election itself and encourage 4.3 million eligible voters to cast their ballot on December 10.

Hong Kongers are largely unimpressed. A recent survey suggested that less than half of the registered youth voters would cast their ballot. While there is no survey parsing the willingness to vote for the city’s entire population, another survey found that 63 percent of residents are not interested in politics.

In response, the regime appears to be making last-minute attempts to encourage people to stay in Hong Kong on election day. In late November, the city’s leader, John Lee, announced a citywide carnival to be held the day before the election, with outdoor music festivals, free entry to government-run museums, and a prize competition for students who engaged in community affairs with their parents.

At the same time, officials said in public that civil servants “are duty-bound to vote, and they should lead by example,” a subtle indication to all who work for the government that their actions on election day might be associated with their performance. Some units may have interpreted the message in a more extreme manner, resulting in actions like promoting the election in government-produced weather reports and switching the entire bureau’s computer screensavers to the election promotion poster.

Despite all this, Hong Kongers are expected to be apathetic toward the election, and the reason is apparent: The election is rigged.

Why More Chinese Are Risking Danger in Southern Border Crossings to U.S.

Li Yuan

Gao Zhibin and his daughter left Beijing on Feb. 24 for a better life, a safer one. Over the next 35 days, by airplane, train, boat, bus and foot, they traveled through nine countries. By the time they touched American soil in late March, Mr. Gao had lost 30 pounds.

The most harrowing part of their journey was trekking through the brutal jungle in Panama known as the Darién Gap. On the first day, said Mr. Gao, 39, he had sunstroke. The second day, his feet swelled. Dehydrated and weakened, he threw away his tent, a moisture-resistant sleeping pad and his change of clothes.

Then his 13-year-old daughter got sick. She lay on the ground, vomiting, with her face pale, her forehead feverish, her hands on her stomach. Mr. Gao said he thought she might have drunk dirty water. Dragging themselves through the muddy, treacherous rainforests of the Darién Gap, they took a break every 10 minutes. They didn’t get to their destination, a camp site in Panama, until 9 p.m.

Mr. Gao said he felt he had no choice but to leave China.

“I think we will only be safe by coming to the U.S.,” he said, adding that he believed that Xi Jinping, China’s leader, could lead the country to famine and possibly war. “It’s a rare opportunity to protect me and my family,” he said.

A growing number of Chinese have entered the United States this year through the Darién Gap, exceeded only by Venezuelans, Ecuadoreans and Haitians, according to Panamanian immigration authorities.

Ukraine war: Soldier tells BBC of front-line 'hell'

James Waterhouse

Outnumbered and outgunned, one front-line soldier has given a sobering account of Ukraine's struggle to cling on to its foothold on the east bank of the vast Dnipro river.

Several hundred Ukrainian soldiers have made it there as part of a counter-offensive launched six months ago.

Under relentless Russian fire, the soldier spent several weeks on the Russian-occupied side of the river as Ukraine sought to establish a bridgehead around the village of Krynky. The BBC is not naming him to protect his identity.

His account, sent via a messaging app, speaks of troop boats blown out of the water, inexperienced reinforcements and a feeling of abandonment by Ukraine's military commanders.

It highlights growing tensions as Ukraine's defence against Russia's invasion grinds to the end of another year.

Ukraine's military told the BBC they are not commenting on the situation in that area for security reasons.

Yet the few hundred marines have been able to dig in, partly helped by Ukrainian artillery fire from the higher, western banks of the Dnipro.

The river separates the Russian-occupied and Ukrainian-controlled parts of the southern Kherson region.

The Dark Side of Climate Finance

Vijaya Ramachandran

As the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP28) gets underway in Dubai, the call for rich countries to provide more money to poor countries to fight climate change has taken center stage. But if the record on climate finance is any indication, poor countries should be careful what they wish for.

At COP28, the World Needs to Prioritize Financial Reform

Rajiv J. Shah

World leaders are descending on Dubai for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28. Even as participants and observers gear up for what could be a contentious round of climate talks, two things are clear. First, the world’s poorest are already suffering from the effects of climate change—and without concerted action, that suffering will grow worse as the planet heats up further. Second, the world is so divided about hot wars over geopolitics, and between industrial and developing economies, such action is harder to achieve.

Rashid Khalidi: Biden Deserves an “F” on the Middle East

Ravi Agrawal

After a brief pause, Israel is now looking to expand ground operations across the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement that “under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank.”

Why the United States Needs an Embassy in Tuvalu

John Augé

In an ever-evolving world of diplomacy, it’s time for the United States to set its sights on a new horizon. Tuvalu, the least visited and fourth smallest country in the world, might not be on everyone’s radar but it holds a world of potential.

The United States first appointed an ambassador to Tuvalu in 1980 but the ambassador has resided in Suva, Fiji, ever since. The U.S. ambassador to Tuvalu is also the ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tonga. U.S. embassies have recently opened in Tonga and Solomon Islands, with plans to open ones in Vanuatu and Kiribati. The United States has overlooked Tuvalu, however. It must look to establish an official mission there.

Tuvalu has a population of about 11,000. It is made up of nine atolls with official languages being Tuvaluan and English. Located within Polynesia, it is a former British colony (then known as the Ellice Islands) and became fully independent as a sovereign state within the Commonwealth in 1978. Since then, it has been a parliamentary democracy with a unicameral parliament consisting of 16 members without political parties.

The international system is currently seeing great power competition in the Pacific between the United States and China. In recent years, Tuvalu has strengthened ties with Taiwan, openly opposing China. Tuvalu is one of only 14 United Nations members recognizing the Republic of China government on Taiwan.

In 2019, the government of Tuvalu turned down a $400 million offer from Chinese companies to construct artificial islands. Former Minister of Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs Simon Kofe stated he suspected the Chinese government backed those companies. Given the dire need for climate finance, this rejection of significant investment demonstrates how committed Tuvalu is to opposing China.

The case for a Cyber Force

Max Blenkin

Back in 1917, German air raids on London and the poor defensive response prompted a review by South African General Jan Smuts which led to formation of the Royal Air Force in 1918 and, three years later, the RAAF.

Major General Murray Thompson, head of Defence Information Communications Technology (ICT) Operations, wonders if it’s not time for another such review to create a new force to operate in the cyber domain.

“If we are to fight and win in the cyber, and indeed ensure its capabilities are harnessed to effect across all warfighting domains, then this might be the time for another Smuts Review that perhaps sets the future direction for a fourth armed service,” he told the MilCIS (Military Communications and Information Systems) conference in Canberra.

Major General Thompson said this newest of domains required that fresh approach, one we have not seen since the advent of powered flight over 100 years ago.

He said the way we viewed the world had been constrained by the physical domains.

“We have applied these views unsuccessfully in the cyber domain. Geography, terrain, laws, power, control all manifest differently in the cyber domain,” he said.

“The grey zone now has become a battlefield that we should prepare our defence force to contest. We need to think differently to do this and we need to do this now if we are going to keep pace with technology.”

Major General Thompson said with the birth of air forces in the 1920s, the entire comprehension of warfare changed.

Defense authorization deal expected this week

Leo Shane III

House and Senate negotiators hope to finalize a deal on the annual defense authorization bill this week, wrapping up a major piece of military legislation before the end of the year.

Conference committee members began their inter-chamber work on the massive military budget policy bill on Wednesday. By late last week, leaders from the House and Senate Armed Services Committee said only a few disagreements remained, and were expected to be worked out early this week.

Those conflicts largely revolve around fights over abortion access policies, diversity training in the military and other social issues inserted into the House draft of the authorization bill. Senate Democrats have been opposed to those changes.

But both Republicans and Democrats are focused on finding a way to finish the work. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., vowed ahead of last week’s conference work that “we will enact an authorization bill this year.” Despite partisan fights on Capitol Hill, the measure has advanced out of Congress for more than 60 consecutive years.