22 April 2024

India-South Korea-US Trilateral Technology Cooperation

Wondeuk Cho and Simran Walia

In March 2024, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held their 10th Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) in Seoul, marking the first such gathering in almost six years. A week later, in their trilateral technology dialogue, the United States, South Korea, and India explored possibilities for collaboration in key emerging technology fields such as semiconductors, biotechnology, space, artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum technology.

Together, these events mark a trajectory toward deeper strategic cooperation between South Korea and India in the Indo-Pacific era. Both countries have now gained significant momentum to bolster their bilateral partnership beyond the confines of their existing special strategic partnership, paving the way for a new chapter that is anticipated to endure for the next five decades and beyond.

India’s elections: Modi and the BJP target two-thirds majority

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Sofiya Azad

India’s upcoming general election will be especially significant. While Modi is likely to win a third consecutive term, the BJP is targeting a two-thirds majority that could enable it to accelerate its Hindu-centric initiatives.

On 19 April, the world’s most populous democracy begins voting in a general election that will most likely result in Narendra Modi’s return as prime minister for a third consecutive five-year term. The last prime minister to win a third term was Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962. A Modi victory would see the incumbent prime minister accelerate his plans to make India the third-largest economy in the world within the next five years and to expand India’s influence on the regional and global stage. However, to implement its Hindu-centric initiatives, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would need a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament). This remains a challenge for the BJP.

US Opposition To Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Risks Losing Entire Region To China – Analysis

James Durso

On April 22, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, is scheduled for a state visit to Pakistan. Their number one topic probably won’t be Hamas or the Houthis, but rather a pipeline.

The Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline was conceived in 1950, and in 2010 — despite U.S. opposition — the countries concluded a 25-year Gas Sale and Purchase Agreement, and construction of the 2,775 km pipeline from Asaluyeh, Iran, to Multan, Pakistan. The initial cost estimate was $7.5 billion.

Pakistan suffers persistent power shortages, causing 18-hour blackouts in rural areas and 6- to 10-hour load-shedding in cities. Although Pakistan has made investments in power generation and distribution, in January 2023 the country suffered a breakdown in the national grid. Another blackout happened in October 2022.

According to the World Bank, an unreliable supply of electricity is “a significant barrier to economic growth.” One recent study found that business profitability in developing countries may be reduced up to almost 40 percent by power crises, and the U.S. Institute of Peace reports of Pakistan, “the shortages impose large costs on the economy as a whole — estimated at about 2 percent of gross domestic product annually — through lower output, exports, and employment.”

In August 2023, Pakistan announced it was suspending the project under threat of U.S. sanctions. Iran rejected Pakistan’s attempts to get out of its agreement, but granted a 10-year extension, and both sides got to work on a way forward. The Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline was already behind schedule (Iran has completed its leg of the pipeline) and Pakistan was facing an $18 billion penalty at the time the Americans intervened.

Greece, Bangladesh Vow To Expand Cooperation In Key Sectors: From Shipping To Manpower – OpEd

Syed Raiyan Amir

Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr. Hassan Mahmud and his Greek counterpart, George Gerapetritis, convened a bilateral meeting on Tuesday (April 16, 2024). The meeting took place at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, coinciding with the 9th Our Ocean Conference held from April 15 to 17. During this significant gathering, both ministers affirmed their dedication to bolstering bilateral cooperation across various domains, encompassing migration and mobility, trade and investment, shipping, manpower and recruitment, as well as the development of renewable and alternative energy infrastructure.

Greece extended recognition to Bangladesh on March 11, 1972, following the return of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Father of the Nation, in January of the same year. The two nations share common perspectives on various regional and global issues, fostering a longstanding friendly relationship. Bangladesh and Greece have traditionally maintained amicable ties, with a deep understanding of Greek history and culture prevalent among Bangladesh’s intelligentsia and academia.

Currently, the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and Greece is significantly influenced by the presence of a substantial number of Bangladeshi expatriates residing and working in Greece. Despite the recent economic downturn in Greece, Bangladeshi nationals continue to contribute to sectors such as agriculture and hospitality, albeit amidst a decreased demand for labor. Over the years, several bilateral visits have taken place between the two countries, aimed at strengthening ties and exploring avenues for cooperation. These visits include engagements by high-ranking officials such as ministers of various portfolios, signifying the commitment of both nations to fostering closer relations. Noteworthy among these interactions was the meeting between H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and the former Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Antonis C. Samaras, during the ASEM summit in Milan in October 2014. During this meeting, discussions centered on enhancing trade and commerce for mutual benefit, with both leaders expressing appreciation for the historical ties between their countries.

Myanmar Border Guards, Soldiers And Civilians Flee To Bangladesh

Abdur Rahman and Ahammad Foyez

Nearly four dozen members of the Burmese junta-affiliated Border Guard Police and soldiers have fled to Bangladesh since Tuesday night amid intensifying fighting between junta troops and Arakan Army rebels in neighboring Rakhine state, officials said.

Bangladeshis who live close to the border with Rakhine reported hearing loud sounds from artillery fire nearby. Over the past week, about 260 Myanmar soldiers, border guards and citizens have taken shelter in Bangladesh after crossing over at Naikhongchhari in Bandarban district and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar district, authorities said.

“Last night, 46 more BGP [Myanmar Border Guard Police] members took shelter while another one came on Wednesday,” said Shariful Islam, a spokesman for the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB).

He told BenarNews that efforts to repatriate those seeking shelter in Bangladesh had begun.

Bangladesh officials said that since a clash between the Arakan Army and junta forces began on Feb. 2, hundreds of BGP members have been fleeing across the border.

About 330 people including BGP members fled from Myanmar between Feb. 4 and 7, according to Bangladesh government data, and were returned to Myanmar on Feb. 15.

A similar exodus is occurring at the Thai border with Myawaddy in Myanmar’s Kayin state. Residents and Myanmar troops have been crossing the No. 2 Friendship Bridge linking Myawaddy to Mae Sot in Thailand as anti-junta rebels and junta troops have been battling for control of the region.

Tension grows

Is Maldives Ready for Its Tactical Drones?

Athaulla A Rasheed

The recent shipment of Turkey-supplied Bayraktar TB2 armed tactical drones will introduce Maldives’ defense industry to more sophisticated military technologies.

The technology is set to help patrol the Indian Ocean around the archipelago, a task that Maldives formerly performed with the assistance of India and Sri Lanka. Instead, it is now hoped the Maldives National Defense Force’s officers and crews of maritime vessels will have better awareness and surveillance capabilities against any threats emerging from and outside the country’s territory – the new drone platform will complement the existing regional arrangements.

The drones were introduced by President Mohamed Muizzu at the inauguration of the first Air Corps of the Maldives Defense Force in March 2024.

The Turkish-made drone was brought to Maldives under a new bilateral cooperation between the countries. Some of the initial diplomatic talks gained weight in Muizzu’s first international trip after assuming office in November 2023.

The Bayraktar TB2, sold by Turkish military contractors to 33 countries, has been used in conflicts from Azerbaijan and Libya and helped Ukraine fight back the Russian invasion in the early stages of the war.

But this is not a purely aggressive posturing for a drone system that can be effective in warfare. Maldives requires this new technology as a developing nation fighting against geography – this primarily involves various forms of non-traditional threats arising from the broad maritime domain.

Maldives has a total land area of 20,130 square km (formed by 1190 islands) situated in 974,000 square km of the Indian Ocean that needs constant watch against internal and external threats. More than 98 percent of its territory is open water.

Into the Breach: Countering Chinese Digital Espionage in Routers

Joshua Levine 

For anyone following the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) actions related to digital technology, the specter that Chinese companies could be leveraged to conduct intelligence activities has been ever-present. National security officials and researchers have highlighted how Chinese laws require domestic firms to assist the CCP in national security or counter-espionage operations, with no limit on what that cooperation can entail. These laws empower the CCP to turn any domestic firm’s product into a trojan horse for its malign operations.

The threat of domestic Chinese technology companies bolstering the CCP’s military and intelligence capabilities has prompted congressional responses on several occasions. The first instance involved Huawei and ZTE, Chinese telecommunications firms with ties to the CCP’s military apparatus, leading to laws preventing the purchase or use of their equipment within U.S. telecommunications networks. Vulnerabilities and potential backdoors into technology used by government agencies, including the Department of Defense, were uncovered in drones manufactured by DJI, a Chinese company, leading to their addition to the Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List. Similar concerns about cybersecurity vulnerabilities have been raised around ZPMC, a Chinese state-owned crane manufacturer, prompting an investigation into the firm. Most recently, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 7521 to mitigate potential security threats posed by TikTok, the popular social media platform owned by Chinese firm ByteDance. Now, another link in the chain that sustains internet connectivity is drawing attention: routers.

Recent reporting and government disclosures have highlighted how CCP digital espionage operations are targeting vulnerabilities in routers in Europe and the United States. Routers are devices that serve as hubs for directing data traffic within and between networks. When you connect to a wireless network at home, work, or school, that connection is facilitated and managed by a router. Insecurities within routers can allow hackers to install malware within networks that can go undetected for years, allowing for remote access, information gathering, and other forms of cyber espionage.

Apply Israel-Iran lessons to Taiwan


There is still a great deal to learn about Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel. Even so, it is very clear that if such an attack were launched by China against Taiwan, the results could well be dismal and Taiwan would suffer greatly.

If there is one clear lesson from Iran’s attack, it is that the US and Japan along with Taiwan must urgently prepare to fend off a similar attack.

In the Iranian attack on Israel:170 kamikaze drones were fired; one entered Israeli territory; at least one appears to have landed in Iran;
30 cruise missiles were fired; 25 were shot down outside of Israeli territory;
103 out of 110 ballistic missiles were shot down; seven ballistic missile impacts were recorded on Israeli territory​ and five of them hit the Nevatim air base, damaging at least one transport plane.

Israel used its layered, mostly ground-based air defenses including Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow-2 and Arrow-3. One drone was shot down by an Israeli Sa’ar ship equipped with C-Dome, the sea-based version of Iron Dome. Israel also used its fighter jets and other aircraft to shoot down drones and cruise missiles.

Israel’s defenses were deeply coordinated. Israel put in the air its Oron surveillance aircraft, a multi-domain, multi-sensor solution that was used to spot threats and pass target coordinates to fighter aircraft and ground based defenses.The Israeli Air Force fies a special-mission Gulfstream G550 that serves as the platform for the military service’s Oron intelligence surveillance reconnaissance mission. Photo: Gulfstream Aerospace

Delight and Dismay After Iran’s Failed Missile Attack

Ben Dubow

Iran’s failed attack on Israel was a source of celebration for its neighbors in Azerbaijan and a reminder for Moscow of its waning influence.

Iran had two goals for its attack on Israel, neither of which was to incapacitate Israeli military capabilities. The first was to convince its own people of the country’s prestige and resolve. The second was to establish credible deterrence in the region, towards countries including Azerbaijan, its increasingly bold — and pro-Israeli — neighbor to the north.

With strict censorship in place and an aggressive media offensive underway, the first appears to have succeeded. The second was a catastrophic failure.

Azerbaijan, which took advantage of Russia’s lack of credible deterrence to brush it aside and defeat neighboring Armenia last year, now has confirmation that the Iranian threat is less fearsome than the Islamic Republic likes to pretend.

To listen to Iranian media reports, Operation “True Promise,” the code name for the launch of 170 drones and perhaps another 140 cruise and ballistic missiles, was a resounding success.

The attack on Israel was “a turning point in Iran’s defense history” that “showed the strong will of the Islamic Republic in revenge against criminals” and “made $270m in profit” (the difference in the costs to Israel and Iran.) This narrative appears to have won acceptance, at least among hardliners, who poured onto the streets to celebrate.

But across Iran’s northwestern border, Azerbaijani state media had an altogether different interpretation of events, releasing ebullient reports of the operation’s failure. The editor of one of its leading newspapers mocked Iran, saying it had “demonstrated the gap in its military preparation” and proved that “Iran’s real desire is not to wage war with the West, Israel or the European Union. Its real problem is the Turkic world” (which includes Azerbaijan.)

Iran Doesn’t Want War


Iran’s attack on Israel was an unprecedented show of force. Though Iran telegraphed the attack in advance, with most drones and missiles intercepted in the air, the attack was a game changer and signals much higher risk of escalation in the future. The shadow war is a shadow war no longer.

But the show of force was also precisely that—a show, choreographed and designed largely to project power without actually causing damage. Though it has signaled it will use its own forces to defend itself and its interests, the regime in Iran is still wary of starting a bigger fight.

And the reason is simple: such a fight would damage Iran’s regional position and put immense pressure on the regime at a moment where domestic issues have left it feeling vulnerable—particularly given the advanced age and poor health of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iran and Israel have been waging their war in the shadows for years now, with each side deploying covert and asymmetric methods to weaken the other. Since October 7, however, the war had become more overt: Israeli air strikes on Iranian bases in Syria and high profile assassinations of major military figures put the onus on Iran to respond, as inaction threatened to weaken its deterrence and undermine its credibility with its allies in the region, such as Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, and major Iraqi militias.

But for months, Iran absorbed Israeli blows. Khamenei has long opted for “strategic patience,” and Iran’s approach to the current crisis reflected his traditional thinking: rather than invite a war with Israel and the U.S., a contest which would likely cause tremendous damage to Iran’s position in the region and potentially within its own territory, Iran decided to put pressure on Israel through its regional “Resistance Front” network, exchanging tit-for-tat blows without opening things up to a bigger, more damaging conflagration.

How America Can Prevent War Between Iran and Israel

Suzanne Maloney

In the immediate aftermath of Tehran’s spectacular, but almost entirely thwarted, attack on Israel, it appeared that the Middle East had dodged a bullet. Iran’s barrage of more than 300 drones and missiles enables its leadership to claim vengeance for Israel’s April 1 assassination of seven senior Revolutionary Guards commanders. Israelis, meanwhile, can revel in the extraordinary operational success of the country’s sophisticated air defense systems, reinforced by an impressive array of wingmen from the American, British, French, and Jordanian militaries, who helped ensure that Iran did not hit a single Israeli target.

Washington is certainly hoping that there will now be a lull in the Iranian-Israeli conflict. Six months of grueling war and dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip have strained U.S. domestic politics and decision-makers’ bandwidth, and so Washington has little appetite to address another crisis. That is why, in the wake of the failed strikes, U.S. President Joe Biden urged the Israelis to “take the win” and “slow things down and think through” any reprisal that might precipitate a wider war in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, Biden’s prudence is not shared by his counterparts in Jerusalem and Tehran. Especially after the October 7 Hamas massacres, Iran’s unprecedented strike on Israeli territory has transformed the confrontation from one taking place mainly in the shadows to an imminent existential peril. As a result, any initial restraint could prove fleeting.

A wider conflict would have a cascade of devastating implications for the region and the world. It would exacerbate violence and displacement across the region, torpedo progress toward Arab-Israeli normalization, generate significant economic disruptions with far-reaching effects. Staving off such a disaster will require that Washington use its unmatched diplomatic and military resources in ways that it has hesitated to deploy so far. It must both push for a pause to the fighting in Gaza—which would deprive Iran of reasons to keep attacking Israel—and seriously threaten Tehran to deter it from further retaliation. Washington may not be happy about taking these measures, but it has no choice. Only the Biden administration, beleaguered as it may be, can head off a catastrophic escalation.

Iran–Israel confrontation heads down perilous path

Callum Fraser

How Israel retaliates could set the tone of conflict in the Middle East for years to come. Tel Aviv could return to a sub-threshold level of battling Tehran or take the two countries down a road to all-out war.

The tit-for-tat retaliation cycle between Israel and Iran has entered a new phase, exiting a period of shadow conflict and heading into one of more open state-on-state violence. This represents a dangerous moment for their military standoff, and the Middle East more widely, as old norms are torn up and new ones are yet to be agreed, implicitly or explicitly.

After Iran’s 14 April missile and uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on Israel, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli national security minister, called for a ‘crushing attack’ on Iran. He argued that ‘the concepts of containment and proportionality are concepts that passed away on October 7’, the day Hamas, an Iranian proxy force, mounted its assault on Israel, killing around 1,200 people. Invoking a link between escalation dominance and deterrence, he stated that ‘in order to create deterrence in the Middle East, the landlord must go crazy’.

How Israel responds, if at all, will be critical to determining if the era of Tel Aviv and Tehran acting subtly in their interstate conflict is over and a hot-war period has begun.
Norm erosionBen-Gvir’s comments, whether serious or posturing, indicate that the tenor of the discussion, as well as the reality of the conflict, have shifted. Both the Hamas attacks and the Iranian UAV and missile assault, largely staged by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), represented a significant departure in the rules and norms by which the Middle East’s conflict was being fought. Israel’s targeting of the Iranian consulate in Damascus on 1 April has been widely regarded as a step up in its openness to hit at Iran directly, though Tehran is accused of targeting an Israeli embassy in the past.

The recent behaviour is a departure from the past when either party often tried to shroud their actions in the cloak of plausible (or sometimes implausible) deniability. On the Israeli side, such actions included assassinations of scientists involved in Iran’s nuclear program and the Stuxnet cyber-attack on nuclear weapons facilities. On the Iranian side, such actions largely involved the reliance on proxies to keep direct involvement in attacks at an arm’s-length distance.

As Iran And Israel Escalate Conflict, Arab States Stick To Their Guns – Analysis

Michael Scollon

(RFE/RL) — As the world anxiously awaited the outcome of Iran’s large-scale attack against Israel, some Arab countries had already taken steps to blunt its impact.

When the dust from the April 13 attack settled, the vast majority of the hundreds of drones and missiles launched by Iran had been shot down — by Israel, its Western allies, and Jordan, despite its strong opposition to Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza.

At least two other Arab states — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), which have been highly critical of the Gaza war and have joined Iran and other Muslim states in pushing for a cease-fire — also reportedly played a role in intercepting the Iranian assault by sharing intelligence information.

The actions by the Sunni Arab countries, all of which have tenuous relationships with both Israel and majority-Shi’a Iran, led to speculation that they may have chosen sides. But experts say that their involvement in thwarting Iran’s attack does not mark a major shift in their positions — either for or against Israel or Iran.
Not Taking Sides

“Some went so far as saying that this is an indication that the threat perception among Arab states vis-à-vis Iran is rising, and the equation has changed and the Arab countries may side with Israel against Iran,” said Hamidreza Azizi, a fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “I don’t see the picture like that.”

Azizi explained that the Arab countries’ contribution, whether shooting down Iranian drones or missiles or providing intelligence, “was more about preventing a war than siding with one side against another.”

Proxy Battles: Iraq, Iran, And Turmoil In The Middle East – Analysis

Hamzeh Hadad


Since Hamas’s attacks sparked the war in Gaza on 7 October 2023, a dangerous cycle of escalation has played out across the Middle East. Iran and its proxies – such as the Houthis in Yemen, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and Iraqi paramilitaries operating as the Islamic Resistance in Iraq – have exchanged attacks with Israel and the US military presence across the region. This threatens to erupt into a wider war, particularly since Iran’s unprecedented direct attack against Israel on 13 April 2024in response to Israel’s bombing of the Iranian consulate in Syria on 1 April.

Prior to this, Iraqi paramilitaries had launched over 170 attacks against US military bases in Iraq and Syria. US forces retaliated, most controversially in a drone strike on a crowded street in Baghdad on 8 February. As with the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Tehran publicly celebrated the feats of its proxies and allies while vehemently denying any involvement or support. And, despite the Islamic Resistance in Iraq announcing a pause in these attacks, the Iraqi government once again finds itself wedged between a regional power and a world power, placing the country under grave threat of being drawn into wider conflict through the action of Iran-backed armed groups rather than official government policy.

This would be disastrous for Iraq. Up until 7 October, Iraqis had finally begun to experience a sense of normalcy and security after decades of unrest. Domestic concerns had shifted from existential matters such as terrorism, occupation, and secessionism to less violent matters like climate change, corruption, and unemployment. Iraq had even begun to host prominent international conferences, seeking to cement itself as a neutral facilitator of stabilising dialogue in the Middle East – something it had been attempting to do since 2012.

The Gaza War Goes Global


BERLIN – With Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel on the night of April 13, the war in the Middle East has taken on a new dimension. For years, the conflict between Iran and Israel had been a “shadow war” in which both sides avoided direct military strikes on each other’s territory. Instead, the conflict reached furtively into the streets of Tehran, where there have been assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and engineers, and into war-torn areas of Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Gaza. In those hot spots, the so-called Axis of Resistance – comprising Hezbollah (in Lebanon), Hamas (in Gaza), and the Houthis (in Yemen) – receives extensive support in the form of Iranian money, weapons, and training.

The current war started on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched an attack on Israel that claimed 1,200 lives and 253 hostages. Israel soon hit back, and the war has been raging in Gaza ever since. As a result of the Israel Defense Forces’ campaign to eliminate Hamas once and for all, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, and the enclave has been laid to waste.

Despite these horrors and the appalling conditions in Gaza, the war is the latest chapter in a bloody conflict that Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over the same stretch of land for almost 80 years. By contrast, Iran’s direct attack against Israel represents something new. To launch a strike from Iranian territory, rather than operating through proxies, is to invite retaliation against Iran itself. The Iranian regime either must feel very sure of itself, or is under enormous pressure to make a show of strength, even if that means risking “open war” not only with Israel but also with the United States.

The immediate trigger was Israel’s April 1 strike on an Iranian consulate building next to Iran’s embassy in Damascus, where several members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two high-ranking commanders, were killed. Though these were hardly the first casualties of Iran’s “shadow war” in Syria and Lebanon, the Iranian leadership nonetheless felt compelled to respond.

IDF has decided on type, not timing, of counter-strike on Ira


The IDF has decided how it will counter-strike Iran and its proxies but has not yet settled on the timing; multiple sources told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Because the timing is still variable and because of all the necessary complex preparations, the current decision could change.

However, the very development of a decision shows the severity and determination of Israel’s leadership to strike back, though all indications are that Jerusalem still seeks to tamp down the attack to avoid spiraling into a regional war.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi hinted that the timing of the attack was not very imminent during a visit to the Arrow air defense battery of Battalion 136.

He said, “We are enabling a home front policy to at least give citizens this Passover week to live almost like normal because we completely trust you and your readiness.”

It is also possible that Halevi, Home Front command policies, and other officials keeping their regular schedules are part of a clever fake-out to get Iran and its proxies to lower their guard.

But at least the plain reading of the relevant signals suggests that a major attack is not imminent in the coming days and could even be postponed for longer.

Brave New Ukraine

Nataliya Gumenyuk

After more than two years fighting one of the world’s most powerful armies, Ukraine has enacted a new mobilization law—a move hailed by the West as an urgent reform. Signed into law on April 16, the legislation comes at a time when Ukraine faces a series of growing challenges in its defense against Russia, from shortages of Ukraine’s soldiers and ammunition to wavering Western support. In this view, the new law could make it easier for the government to replenish its forces as it prepares for a major Russian offensive this summer.

For Ukrainians, however, the law also represents something else. Subject to more than 4,200 amendments, the law required months of contentious debate in the Ukrainian parliament. Indeed, some of its original provisions—such as planning for how and when the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have been serving since the war began should be discharged—were ultimately left out for a separate bill. But it also has become a symbol of Ukraine’s imperfect yet still flourishing democracy. More significantly, it has helped define the pivot point at which the country now stands: having weathered the initial emergency of war, Ukraine now needs to restructure its institutions and its society as it adapts to a potentially much longer conflict.

Back in the spring and summer of 2022, in the months after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Ukrainians’ response to the attack was almost spontaneous. Huge numbers of men enlisted, and despite brutal fighting and constant bombardment, they were able to defeat Russia’s attempt to take Kyiv and even to reclaim significant territory captured by the Russians. With arms and supplies flooding into Ukraine from the United States and the West and immediate fighting to be done, there was not much time to think about building the country’s own defense industries or managing the wartime economy.

Major Trends in Global Trade

Geopolitical Futures -April 12, 2024

The latest U.N. trade data show that the global decline in goods trade is ending – with a few important caveats. First, trade flows have been and will continue dividing into blocs whose members have similar geopolitical perspectives. Second, differing rates of economic growth will likely lead to further changes in trade patterns. Third, increased competition for container shipping will likely raise transport costs and cause delays for some goods, while intense competition for essential raw materials will refocus trade toward securing these supplies. Finally, ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Israel will continue to disrupt shipping lanes and drive up commodity prices, affecting global trade flows.

What We Know About Israel’s Strike in Iran

Liam Stack

Israel struck Iran early on Friday, according to officials from both countries, in what appeared to be its first military response to the Iranian attack on Israel last weekend.

The strike was the latest in a cycle of retaliation between the two foes that has alarmed world leaders, who fear that back-and-forth attacks could erupt into a broader war.

Here is a look at what we know about the strike and its implications.
What did Israel strike?

Iranian officials said on Friday that an Israeli strike hit a military air base near Isfahan, a city in central Iran. The scale and method of the attack were unclear.

The state media in Syria, a major Iranian ally that borders Israel, said also that Israeli missiles had hit air-defense positions in southern Syria on Friday.

The Israeli military declined to comment.
Why did Israel strike?

Israel attacked Iran in retaliation for a large Iranian attack on Israeli territory last weekend that included more than 300 missiles and drones.

That attack frightened Israelis but caused little damage and few injuries because nearly all of Iran’s weapons were intercepted by Israel and its allies, including the United States, Britain and Jordan.

That Iranian attack was launched in response to an Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria on April 1, which killed seven Iranian officials. Israeli officials did not warn the United States of the Damascus strike and some have since privately conceded that it was a serious miscalculation.

‘Mind-boggling’: Israel, Ukraine are mere previews of a much larger Pacific missile war, officials warn


This photo taken on April 14, 2024 shows flares from explosions in the sky over Jerusalem as Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts missiles and drones from Iran. (Photo by Jamal Awad/Xinhua via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Instead of congratulating themselves over the allied defeat of Iran’s 300-plus drones and missiles on Saturday, top Pentagon officials said they saw the barrage launched against Israel as a mere preview of the much larger salvos China could launch at Guam, Taiwan, and other targets in a future Pacific war.

There is some good news to celebrate, said Pentagon tech chief Heidi Shyu, the under secretary for research, development, and engineering. The ship-borne Aegis air defense system successfully shot down ballistic missiles aimed at Israel, she said, while the land-based Patriot “has proven itself in Ukraine.”

But the lesson learned from those two conflicts is not one of complacency, Shyu warned. Instead, she and other officials said at an NDIA missile defense conference Tuesday that the sheer scale of the future threat will require more and cheaper interceptors, new defenses such as high-powered lasers, and preemptive or retaliatory strikes on enemy launchers.

“Just look what happened over the weekend,” Shyu told the conference. “In a highly contested fight over the Indo-Pacific, that could be even greater numbers.”

It’s crucial to learn from Iran attack on Israel and Russia’s on Ukraine, said assistant secretary of defense John Plumb, and the most important lesson is that an enemy can launch a lot of missiles and drones at once. “The scale thing just hits me over and over and over” in both conflicts, he told the conference. “We have to have defense at scale, because the adversary can develop cheap systems at scale and then send them simultaneously.”

Who Is Scoring, Who Is Losing?

Josef Joffe

Six weeks before Iran’s missile assault on Israel, Joe Biden served up pie in the sky in his State of the Union Address: “two states” for Israel and Palestine as the “only real solution.” In response, Republican Senator Mario Rubio quipped that the President had actually meant Michigan and Minnesota, “the two states [he] is trying to solve for the elections in November.”

The tortured sarcasm is not off the mark. Domestic politics beats foreign policy when the presidential race is on. These two swing states are among eight or so that will decide the contest. Yet Rubio should have mentioned a third “state,” the Democratic Party. A haven for America’s Jews in the 20th century, the Democrats—especially Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—are coming down ever harder on the Jewish state. Though contrecoeur, Jewish voters are edging toward the Republican Party, once a WASP redoubt, and the GOP is happily grazing in the Israel camp. Another realignment of American politics is in the making.

“It is no accident, comrades,” the Soviets used to orate, that the Biden Administration has recalibrated after the first weeks of the Israel-Gaza war. The President had loyally stood by Israel with hardware and warm words. Then, he sought to secure his left flank at home by pushing ceasefires and threatening arms cut-offs. Honi soit qui mal y pense, runs a catty French line—“Shame on those who think ill of it.” These are the ways of electoral politics.

So far, so transparent. Yet, there is more in the life of nations than politicking, especially for the world’s mightiest power, the linchpin of the global order. So, another twist on April 13, when Iran unleashed its drones and missiles against the “Little Satan.” Luckily, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were well prepared, averting catastrophe with American (and more) help. Simultaneously Biden warned Israel against massive retaliation. Please no regional war, friends. And if you trigger it, don’t count on us! The April assault and Israel’s counterpunch must not overturn the status quo ante.

Israel’s Retaliation Dilemma

Greg Priddy

In the wake of the Iranian barrage of drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles against Israel on April 13, Israeli officials have made it very clear that they will respond forcefully rather than heeding President Biden’s call to “take the win” after their defensive actions were largely successful. But Israel also has signaled that its strike against Iran will be calibrated to try to avoid further escalation.

Nevertheless, Iran’s willingness to strike Israel directly from Iranian territory rather than through proxies is a significant shift. Up until now, Israel has enjoyed an enormous amount of latitude in its actions in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, striking both Iranian proxies and Iranian military forces directly outside Iranian territory without having to fear a direct Iranian retaliation. This freedom of action could threaten uncontrolled escalation into a regional war.

Iran’s actions since October—restraining its proxies from attacking U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria after the U.S. retaliation for such attacks in early February—have made clear that they want to avoid a regional war. But Israel’s strike on April 1 against senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) officers at Iran’s consulate compound in Damascus met a threshold at which Iran was no longer willing to maintain “strategic patience” and decided to try to change the rules of the game, assuming a greatly increased level of risk of the lose-lose outcome of regional conflict.

Israel highly values its freedom of action in Syria and Lebanon, which has often allowed it to interdict arms shipments to Hezbollah, neutralize terrorist suspects, as well as take out a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. Allowing Iran to “reestablish deterrence” by absorbing even an ineffective strike without a response after a strike in Damascus is unthinkable. However, the pressure from the United States and others to avoid escalation by keeping any retaliation small is immense. Israel also would clearly lose in some ways in a fully escalated regional conflict, as Hezbollah and Iran are capable of inflicting serious damage via missile strikes. They may have intentionally telegraphed the April 13 strikes so far in advance that other nations were able to intercept some of the drones well before they reached Israeli airspace. Iran also refrained from using its most advanced missile systems. Israel could not expect to replicate the success of their defenses at the same level in a regional conflict.

National Security Implications of Baltimore Bridge Catastrophe

Rob Maness

The Port of Baltimore is “closed until further notice” following the Francis Scott Key Bridge tragedy, sending several industries into disarray and jeopardizing national security.

In 2023, the port handled a record amount of international cargo, ranked ninth for both dollar value and tonnage in the United States. Vital for both imports and exports of a variety of commodities, the Port of Baltimore has always had international significance and the impact of its closure will be wide-ranging and long-term for the supply chain in the United States and beyond. Given the seriousness of this issue, Congress must come together to approve the funding to clean up the debris, reopen the channel, and rebuild the bridge.

Having three decades of experience in the United States military, and with foreign affairs and national security issues I can safely say that the reverberations of the disaster will be felt across the globe. The repercussions with regards to energy security are of specific concern and must be addressed.

Domestically, the impacts of these hiccups in the energy supply chain are already being felt. CSX’s Curtis Bay Piers in particular – heavily impacted by the bridge collapse – supplies coal to power the Maryland electric grid and provides metallurgical coal critical for the steel industry. The inability to ship energy supplies from this terminal has created a ripple effect in both sectors. A warning from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), meanwhile, that the bridge collapse and subsequent impact to the port will slow the growth of U.S. coal exports to our allies has also weakened that supply chain of growing importance.

International demand for American coal has been on the rise in the past few years due to Europe’s tightening energy supply, low natural gas reservoirs, and conflict in the region as many countries like Ukraine turned elsewhere to get their energy commodities. As the second-largest exporting hub for coal in the United States, accounting for nearly one-third (28 percent) of total exports in 2023, the Port of Baltimore has helped meet that demand.

Cybercom establishes AI task force


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Cyber Command has created an artificial intelligence task force to help it identify technologies that have great promise for full adoption.

The effort is born out of an AI roadmap that the command developed, which was mandated by Congress as part of the fiscal 2023 annual defense policy bill. The legislation charged Cybercom and the Department of Defense chief information officer — in coordination with the chief digital and artificial intelligence officer, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, director of the National Security Agency and the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering — to jointly develop a five-year guide and implementation plan for rapidly adopting and acquiring AI systems, applications, supporting data and data management processes for cyber operations forces.

“U.S. Cybercom has developed an AI roadmap and is working to apply AI in cybersecurity to better identify and close vulnerabilities across Department of Defense networks,” Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of Cybercom, said in prepared remarks for the Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats, hosted by Vanderbilt University, on Wednesday.

Last week during a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems hearing, he noted that the roadmap lays out technologies the command wants to begin to experiment with, pilot and provide to the force.

“AI is a tool that enables our mission. It’s a tool that the talented members of the cyber operations forces have been using for years. Along with support from our partners, especially DARPA, DOD federally funded research-and-development centers, and our university partners, we have implemented machine learning models across our missions and currently use AI for operations,” Haugh said at the conference.

Inside the changing world of drone warfare


The threat of small drones and how they are implemented has changed the way the military trains for war. Some drones are used as a reconnaissance platform for detecting troop movements, while others are rigged with hardware to drop grenades and mortars on enemy fighters.

Either way, small commercial drones will be a permanent fixture in modern warfare.

“Talk to any soldier in Ukraine,” said Brig. Gen. Guillaume Beaurpere, commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS). “You don’t go anywhere without a drone flying either in support of you or against you.”

First-person view (FPV) drone footage and other videos have poured onto social media feeds since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022. The videos have put the horrors of war on center stage as Russians and Ukrainians have been stalked and killed by off-the-shelf, modified small drones.

“What we are seeing these things used as today is a lot of reactive adaptation of technology. So, in the war in Ukraine, we’re seeing both sides kind of adapting to the disruptive nature of this tech,” said Dylan Hamm, a former Navy SEAL who currently works for PDW, a defense contractor focused on drone technology. “They’re figuring out: ‘What, can I zip tie to this drone?’ ‘How can I get this kinetic payload delivered?’ And they’re just making it happen.”

Small drones have played a major role during the war in Ukraine. Hamm said there have been several instances of quadcopters being rigged up with an RPG-7 rocket, modified from a direct, shoulder-fired weapon to a “maneuverable shape charge” that creates a nightmare for armored vehicles.